Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal wants his players to show “desire” and be “horny” when they take on FC Midtjylland in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League clash. He also defended winger and compatriot Memphis Depay, pointing out it's not easy to adapt to a new league and culture on the fly.
As reported by Simon Peach of the Press Association, the Dutchman used a rather odd term to describe how he wants his players to feel about this clash during his pre-match press conference on Wednesday:
Van Gaal: "Desire - it is a great word. I often use the word horny with my players" (Yes, he did say that)— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) February 24, 2016
Here's video of the unusual comment:
When he was asked about Depay's struggles adapting to the English game, he told reporters it shouldn't come as a huge surprise.
Per Samuel Luckhurst and James Dixon of the Manchester Evening News, he said, “These are your words, not mine. He has to adapt, I agree. But that’s not only at pace but in different situations. He has to adapt. And also to the culture of England and the Premier League as a person.”
The Red Devils will host Danish side Midtjylland on Thursday looking to overcome a 2-1 deficit. Progression to the next round of the Europa League is a must, and another poor performance against a side perceived to be well below United's level is unacceptable.
Van Gaal doesn't believe Midtjylland are such an inferior side, however, and he showered the Danes with praise, per Luckhurst and Dixon:
No, I think Midtjylland has a very good organisation, very detailed and the players want to perform that organisation.
They play with diagonal pressing. I do that also with my team. Not many teams are doing that. And when I see the data of Midtjylland they have always won against English opponents.
We have to keep the ball better and we have to move the ball quicker—that’s always what we have to do. And especially when the opponent is so well organised.
Daniel Taylor of the Guardian thought the quotes were telling:
Horny or not, Van Gaal not exactly sounding ultra-confident. Lots of praise in that press conference for Midtyjlland and their style of play— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) February 24, 2016
Per Taylor, Van Gaal certainly won't underestimate the Danes:
Back in Manchester for Van Gaal press conference. #MUFC manager says he intends to start with strongest possible team v FC Midtjylland— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) February 24, 2016
While the manager and his team have come under some criticism of late, Van Gaal believes the players have the tools required to look past it and focus on the task at hand:
Van Gaal: "There's a lot of criticism, so it can influence (the players) but they have to use their tools to ignore it"— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) February 24, 2016
He also provided an update on the status of David De Gea, who won't be available for this match, and Marcos Rojo, who could play his first minutes since November but won't be fit to start against Midtjylland, per the club's official Twitter account:
While a simple 1-0 win would see United advance to the next round of the Europa League on Thursday, fans are expecting a lot more after the dreadful showing in Denmark last week, and Van Gaal needs to deliver to keep whatever goodwill he still has left with the fans.
Yet another disappointing result could mean the end of his tenure as United manager—something he will surely look to avoid at this point in time.