Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has admitted that last year’s injury crisis was down to him working the players too hard.
The squad was plagued with injuries last year throughout the season and the manager found it difficult to pick the same team for a run of games. It was the Dutchman’s first season in English football and van Gaal seems to have learned his lesson about training his players.
The manager is known for his demanding training sessions, something he feels gets the best out of the players on matchday, but it takes time for the squad to get accustomed to van Gaal’s methods. Man United struggled in the league last year, finishing fourth and it would have been interesting to see how the team would have done had they not had so many injuries.
However, van Gaal took the blame: “That was my fault. I was training them harder but they were not used to training like that,” he said.
“Because I am convinced you have to train now they are used to that step. I also let go players because of that and I bought new players. I think they are more used to my training sessions. You can see that with the new players. You can see which players are always injured.”
Van Gaal himself was shocked my the number of players who were unavailable for at least a period of time last year but defended his decision to keep a small squad.
“In my career I never had injuries like that [last year]. I have always preferred small squads. I think I have the smallest squad in the Premier League. You always have to train but with structure and not too hard.”
United have been lucky this year that players have not been picking up small niggles like they did last season. Van Gaal has had plenty of choice when picking his teams, allowing him to settle on an ideal starting XI.
Luke Shaw, Paddy McNair and Ashley Young are the only ones unavailable for the Manchester derby on Sunday and van Gaal will be confident going into the game, knowing he has almost a full squad to choose from.