Football

Van Gaal blasts Devils

United boss criticises his players for not keeping possession after taking 3-0 lead

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY

MAN UNITED 3

(Wayne Rooney 36, 45-pen, Juan Mata 38)

AS ROMA 2

(Miralem Pjanic 75, Francesco Totti 89-pen)

He got his second consecutive win as Manchester United manager, but Louis van Gaal was not a happy man.

The demanding 62-year-old Dutchman hit out at his players for almost allowing Roma to break his 100 per cent record.

Unlike in their 7-0 thrashing of the Los Angeles Galaxy last week, the Red Devils were slow off the mark in the 3-2 win over Roma in Denver, Colorado in the United States yesterday morning (Singapore time) and the Italian giants wasted numerous opportunities to go ahead.

Wayne Rooney scored twice and Juan Mata also got on the score sheet with a stunning goal, but Roma fought back in the second half with two strikes - the first of which came from a 50-metre effort from Miralem Pjanic.

Van Gaal was annoyed with the way his team failed to close the game out after going 3-0 up, but he thinks the fact that the game took place in 30 deg C heat, some 1,600 metres above sea level, did not help his players.

"I think we didn't play a good match," van Gaal said.

"All my good passers failed today. I think it was because of the height and the air.

"Mata, (Ander) Herrera and (Shinji) Kagawa, these are the best passers (at the club), but everything went wrong.

"In the second half, we forgot to keep the ball. When you are 3-0 ahead, the only thing you have to do is keep the ball in possession and the opponents have to run and run and run.

"We forgot to do that. We brought Roma by ourselves back into the match. I am pleased we have won, but it was not good."

LETHAL COMBO

Rooney collected the ball from Mata and curled a stunning shot over Lukasz Skorupski from 25 metres to put United ahead in the 36th minute.

The England striker then returned the favour two minutes later, firing a 45-metre ball over the Roma defence to Mata, who killed the ball with his first touch before superbly lifting it over Skorupski.

A clumsy foul by Mehdi Benatia on Danny Welbeck allowed Rooney to add his second from the penalty spot.

Van Gaal was reluctant to single anyone out for praise, but he could not hide his admiration for Rooney's performance.

"The pass of Rooney to Mata was unbelievable," said van Gaal, who withdrew the England striker, along with eight others at half-time.

Van Gaal was not so happy with Ben Amos for letting in Pjanic's 50-metre shot.

Pjanic spotted Amos well off his line in the second half and punted a looping shot over the 24-year-old goalkeeper.

When asked whether he regarded the goal as a wonder strike by Pjanic or an error on the part of his substitute, van Gaal said with a smile: "What do you think?

"I am nearly 63. When the ball is flying in the air for four seconds, I think I (can) run 50 metres."

Roma coach Rudi Garcia was stunned by Pjanic's effort.

"It was a world-class goal," he said.

"I am sure we will see it throughout (the) world. He probably had a training session yesterday with the Denver Broncos."

Van Gaal, meanwhile, played down suggestions that he does not see Wilfried Zaha as part of his first-team plans.

Zaha is the only player in van Gaal's 26-man squad not to feature in this tour of the US.

But the former Holland boss said that he has no issues with the forward, who was loaned to Cardiff last January, just six months after joining United from Crystal Palace in a £15 million ($31.6m) transfer.

"I have a lot of players in (his) position," van Gaal added. "Our squad are not balanced.

"Maybe Zaha will be picked because he is working good and hard, and is doing all I require and demand. There is no problem (with him)."

Van Gaal and his squad flew to Washington DC yesterday ahead of their next match in the International Champions Cup against Inter Milan on Wednesday morning. - PA Sport.

Rooney wants United armband

AMBITION: Wayne Rooney believes Man United have the ability to win the league title under Louis van Gaal this season.

Wayne Rooney is keen to be named Manchester United's new captain and is confident the team can challenge for the Premier League title this season.

The departure of Nemanja Vidic to Inter Milan this summer has left United needing to appoint a new skipper and manager Louis van Gaal is taking his time before making a decision.

Robin van Persie, who was van Gaal's captain for Holland at the World Cup, is a contender for the job, while long-serving midfielder Darren Fletcher wore the armband in last week's win over Los Angeles Galaxy.

Rooney has captained United in the past and he is hoping to be given the role on a permanent basis.

"Of course, I would like the captaincy, but it's the manager's decision who he chooses," said Rooney.

"I think he wants to work with the players and then choose a captain from there."

United finished seventh last season as David Moyes failed to see out the campaign and van Gaal has been charged with the task of turning the ship around.

Rooney said: "We can win the title. Last season was a bad one, we know that, but we are confident we can put it right. We have to believe we can win the title."

Rooney has been impressed by the initial impact of van Gaal.

"Louis van Gaal has been great. I've only had a few days, but he's a strong guy who has been good in training and it's been enjoyable," said the striker.

"He is bringing in a new style of play and wants us all to adapt to that and that's been enjoyable.

"He's very honest in training. If you are not doing well, he will tell you but, if you do well, he will praise you. If you aren't doing things right in training, you need to know so that you can put them right."

Meanwhile, van Gaal looks set to speak to Jose Mourinho over his claim that signing Luke Shaw would have "killed" Chelsea.

Shaw became the fourth-most expensive defender in history this summer when he signed for United for an initial fee of £27 million ($57m).

Mourinho revealed that Chelsea pulled out of a bid to sign the player due to his wage demands of around £100,000 a week.

"If we pay a 19-year-old boy what we were being asked for, to sign Luke Shaw, we are dead," Mourinho was quoted as saying in the British press.

Van Gaal refused to get drawn into a public war of words with Mourinho - a former protege of his at Barcelona.

"I don't think I have to discuss things in the media, it's better to discuss it with Jose," said the Dutchman. - Wire Services.

United boss won't rule out move for Strootman

Louis van Gaal has refused to rule out a move for Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman, despite the fact he is sidelined with a cruciate ligament injury, according to Sky Sports.

The new Manchester United boss coached Strootman during his time in charge of Holland, and the Roma midfielder would have been a part of his World Cup squad had it not been for the injury he sustained in March.

Roma coach Rudi Garcia said yesterday that United they will have to fork out up to 100 million euros ($167m) if they want to sign Strootman, and van Gaal refused to rule out the prospect of making a move for the 24-year-old.

He said: "Other players, not at Manchester United, I can't judge - I am not there. Strootman I can judge, but he has been injured for more than six months.

"We have to wait and see how he comes back. It's not so easy to come back from an injury, so we'll wait and see." - Wire Services.