MANCHESTER United manager Louis van Gaal says he has no problem if his strikers are not scoring, insisting he is an unusual coach.
United’s performances in recent weeks have led to criticism of the team’s playing style, while the strike partnership of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao was broken up for Monday night’s FA Cup victory over Preston North End with the Dutchman missing the game.
The duo have scored two goals each since the turn of the year and there have been calls for Wayne Rooney, deployed in midfield for most of the season, to return to the attack.
But when it was put to Van Gaal that his forwards have not been hitting the back of the net enough, he insisted it does not matter where the goals from come.
“I am not a usual coach, it doesn’t matter for me who is scoring the goals,” he told reporters on Friday.
“I also said that in the beginning of the season when you criticised my defenders. No, it is not the defenders, it is the team.
“The defence begins with the attackers and the attack begins with the defenders who have to build up so that we come in the third, fourth phase. I am very happy that, for instance, Chris Smalling scored two goals against Burnley when he came on.
“Everyone knows what he has to do when he comes on. Every time you have a substitute getting ready to come on he has to listen for three minutes to the assistant about set-plays because we have organised everything.
“The most difficult part is to perform and that is down to the players, so all the credit goes to the players.”
Van Gaal was also pleasd when it was put to him that a poll conducted by the Manchester Evening News suggested that the majority of United fans support the Dutchman’s approach.
“Over 80%? Unbelievable. In spite of the media’s criticism, fantastic. Thank you. I can repeat it, more than 80%.
“It is not also for the first time that the fans are amazing. When you see at Preston North End, in the second-half we are behind after two minutes, and the fans are supporting us until the end. That is not the first time, it happens every match that they are supporting in spite of being behind.”
The manager added that Phil Jones and Van Persie are in contention to start Saturday’s clash with Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
Jones was withdrawn early on with a knee injury during the 1-1 draw with Burnley 10 days ago, while Van Persie missed the Preston match with a knock.
“They are fit to play,” Van Gaal told MUTV. “Only Carrick is still injured.
“I think he shall train with the group next week. I expect that, but you never know. You’ll have to wait and see.”