The Red Devils have a big test on Sunday when they travel to London to face Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal who have struggled so far this season in the Champions League.
Manchester United made life hard for themselves by dropping off and inviting pressure in the closing minutes of their 2-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg in the Champions League on Wednesday, defender Chris Smalling has said. We were aware of that and we conceded a goal, but we kept our composure and I think we had many chances in the first half to level the score and that is what we did.
His dominant performance could have taken its toll and with Arsenal next up for United, van Gaal’s decision to bring him off could prove to be a stroke of genius.
To ensure his players are fully recharged for Sunday’s title showdown at Arsenal, van Gaal has given his players Friday off to recover.
Not that United have much chance to rest and regroup before their next big game.
“After that, it was not good and that is remarkable because when it comes to keeping the ball in our possession, we have done that very well in the last five or six matches”, the manager said.
Wins for United and Manchester City on Wednesday ended a miserable run for English clubs in Europe.
Van Gaal said his side had deserved to win overall given the amount of chances they created, and praised the spirit they had shown to secure the result. “The second goal, I think, was a s*** goal”, he said.
But he stressed there is still plenty of room for improvement for United, who have now won four games in a row in all competitions since losing their Group B opener 2-1 at PSV Eindhoven. “We also have to play over Christmas”. “It is the greatest compliment you have to make to Chris and not to me”.
“The solution is recovery, recovery, recovery”, Van Gaal stressed.
“I set aims and I was very lucky that clubs or national teams want me”, the Dutchman added.
“But he is always thinking about the team and can play in a lot of positions and for a manager it’s fantastic that he’s willing to do that. I am enjoying it, the team are winning and we’re in good shape”.