Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has voiced his disappointment at the fans' treatment of Marouane Fellaini in Sunday's 1-1 FA Cup draw against West Ham United, in which he also felt scorer Dimitri Payet dived prior to his free-kick opener.
Fellaini was sarcastically applauded by United fans after being withdrawn in the 76th minute, and Van Gaal was displeased with that behaviour because he felt the Belgian performed well, per the Daily Star's Jonathan Green:
Yeah, because I think Fellaini again played a good match.
He performed well in our gameplay and [the fans' reaction] was disappointing, but that was the only moment that I was disappointed because they were supporting our side, in spite of two losses this week.
Maybe they have another opinion to me.
Fellaini has started in 17 of his 27 appearances for the Red Devils this season, and the £27.5 million David Moyes signing has largely remained a fringe figure under Van Gaal.
The former Everton talisman has been a prominent figure in the United team of late, and Full Time Devils questioned why Van Gaal has handed the player starts when other options are available:
According to WhoScored.com, Fellaini completed 33 of 40 attempted passes and was dispossessed four times, more than any other player at Old Trafford, suggesting maybe some criticism was well-placed.
Is Van Gaal right to start Fellaini?
Van Gaal's views on Payet's performance weren't as kind, and the United boss suggested the player shouldn't have been on the pitch following an incident he felt infringed the rules on simulation.
The France international had already been cautioned when he went down in the box following a challenge from United's Marcos Rojo, but referee Martin Atkinson did not award a penalty. Van Gaal, said, per the Mirror's David McDonnell: “Payet was more or less diving. He was maybe touched, but not enough to fall like that. But there are always discussions about the decisions of the referee."
BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey provided a glimpse of the inch-perfect free-kick that curled West Ham into the lead at Old Trafford, which United wouldn't have conceded were Payet not present:
1-1 a fair result. RT the life out of this from Payet...cracking!!! https://t.co/T8VN7vUy3a— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) March 13, 2016
TalkSPORT's Stan Collymore agreed the winger deserved to be shown a second yellow for the incident, which would have boosted United's chances of claiming something better than a draw on home soil:
Dive for me from Payet. Classic bow shape body shape in dive.— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) March 13, 2016
2nd yellow equals…@talkSPORT LIVE
The Red Devils rescued a replay thanks to Anthony Martial's equaliser seven minutes from time, with United desperately searching for a semi-final berth amid their other disappointments.
The club sits sixth in the Premier League and is 2-0 down to Liverpool following the first leg of its UEFA Europa League round-of-16 tie, meaning the FA Cup looks to be United's best chance of silverware.
Van Gaal is evidently hoping to see a more unified front from his fans, while the refereeing decisions he felt have gone against his side will be seen as another inhibiting factor in an already difficult campaign.