Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal refused to blame a poor performance for his team's 2-1 defeat to FC Midtjylland in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday.
Instead he named a lengthy injury list and the cruelty of fate as the chief culprits, per an interview with BT Sport (h/t Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News):
Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst
Van Gaal, on BT Sport, blames 'the law of Murphy' for #mufc performance, citing De Gea injury.2/18/2016, 8:21:47 PM
BT Sport provided the full discussion:
BT Sport Football @btsportfootball
Louis van Gaal blames 'The Law Of Murphy' for @ManUtd's defeat in Denmark. #UEL https://t.co/qOcpI8KvQI2/18/2016, 8:30:57 PM
Van Gaal was bemoaning an injury crisis that claimed goalkeeper David De Gea as its latest victim just moments before kick-off in Denmark, per the club.
Van Gaal did offer an update on De Gea's status:
Manchester United @ManUtd
Louis van Gaal has confirmed David De Gea suffered a knee injury during the warm-up this evening and will undergo a scan tomorrow. #mufc2/18/2016, 8:34:40 PM
With the Spaniard missing, replacement Sergio Romero was beaten by Pione Sisto and substitute Paul Onuachu, despite producing some excellent saves. United's real problem was a lack of potency up front, bar Memphis Depay's important away goal.
While Van Gaal was reluctant to be critical of his players, he did accept the fans' right to lament United's current poor form, per Goal.com:
They are disappointed like we are disappointed. I'm very grateful for the fans supporting us. They want to win like we want to win, and we hope that at Old Trafford we will do it.
The fans can criticise. They can do it. When you see the second half, maybe they are right, but we have to improve and then those fans will support us again. We have seen that in the 18 months I have been here.
Criticism from outside is certainly growing as Van Gaal's position comes under increasing threat. While his side will likely still be fancied to do enough at Old Trafford to progress, United's performances are becoming more suspect with each game.
There's little creativity and industry in midfield and no verve up front, while injuries have ravaged what had been a pretty solid defence.