Louis van Gaal insists his style at Manchester United “is working” despite recent struggles.
After four consecutive victories over Shrewsbury, Midtjylland, Arsenal and Watford, United appeared to have put their troubles behind them as they progressed in the Europa League and FA Cup, as well as closing the gap to fourth place in the Premier League.
But subsequent defeats to West Brom in the Premier League and Liverpool in the Europa League round of 16 first leg leave their season again in jeopardy.
United must now overturned a two-goal deficit against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Thursday, while in-form West Ham await in the FA Cup. In terms of the league, they are now three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, but their bitter rivals have a game in hand.
United certainly appear to have the individuals on paper to triumph, but the poor style and substance display at Anfield – not for the first time this season – raises understandable doubts.
“I think it is working because you have to see how we have to work,” Van Gaal said of his tutorship.
“Under which circumstances we have to work and when you don’t have too many players and you have to play in three competitions, then it is very difficult.”
Van Gaal bristled when asked how many times United had played the way he wanted – “you are now very negative” – and rejected the accusation that United had fallen short in his time at the helm.
“I think it is working,” he said. “The style is also working.
“It is not giving the best results. It is not good enough when you think you have to be a champion. Or win the Euro League or the FA Cup.
“It is still possible, but when you see this game (against Liverpool), you can say what you are saying but when you analyse what we have done this season and the other season, then you cannot say that.
“I cannot change your mind because you are thinking (it already) otherwise you don’t put the question to me.”
Van Gaal put United’s inconsistencies down to a rotation policy borne out of necessity and remains upbeat about his chances, despite the rising pressure and Jose Mourinho constantly being linked.
“We are still in three competitions so we can fight for a lot and it is possible that we are going out (of the Europa League) and then it is very difficult situation for everyone, but still we have the chance to win something and you have to believe in that,” he said.
“I see a lot of your colleagues (in the media) are not believing in that but that was already (the case) for a long time and we are still in three competitions.
“There are many of my colleagues who are not in three competitions any more.”