Louis van Gaal has demanded an immediate improvement from Manchester United after admitting their start to the season has not been good enough.

The Red Devils avoided matching their worst opening sequence to a Premier League campaign since 1992 by earning a point with an unconvincing 1-1 draw at Sunderland.

But, after the opening-day defeat at home to Swansea, the new manager was left with much to ponder, his assertion that his side need a miracle to win the title this season looking increasingly accurate.

He revealed that confidence was low after seeing Juan Mata's goal at the Stadium of Light on Sunday cancelled out by Sunderland's Jack Rodwell to leave the former champions already five points behind the early pacesetters in their attempts to improve on a disappointing seventh-placed finish in May.

"So much is down to confidence," van Gaal said. "In pre-season, our confidence was much better than it is now. We're working hard to improve and, if we win the next match, then that confidence will start to come back."

The Dutchman added: "In the first half... we didn't create so much, but scored a fantastic goal.


"But then, we've already warned our players they don't have to give a lot of set-pieces away, and we gave a lot of set-pieces away and they scored out of a set-piece, so that was disappointing.

"We played much better in the second half and could have created more but, in the last third, we lacked creative passes.

"Football is played for creating chances and making goals. We haven't created so many chances today.

"We probably had more ball possession and were more dominant than the last match, but you have to win your game at that moment and we couldn't, so that's a pity."

Van Gaal was also critical of the decision to book Ashley Young for simulation after going over Wes Brown's leg in the second half, although he admitted that the winger's action was "exaggerated".

"He was free at the ball, he lifted the ball across the player and the opponent is kicking him," said van Gaal.

"After that, he was jumping too much, but what counts is that he was kicked by the opponent and then the referee can give a penalty.

"He was tackled in my opinion, but after that he was exaggerating. But it is not diving because he was touched by the opponent."

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet was satisfied after his side claimed a second point with a battling display.

"We were the best team for long spells, but the fact that we've not won isn't a wasted opportunity, it's still a point against Manchester United," said the Uruguayan.

"I think they will finish in the top four. It's a different set-up for them without doubt and it's strange to see them playing three at the back, but give Louis van Gaal time and he will get things right." 
- Wire Services.

Ashley Young (above) has a history of diving and the way he fell to try and win a penalty won’t help his reputation.

— Former EPL referee Graham Poll wrote in the Daily Mail