Louis van Gaal admitted Manchester United needed to bring in “better players” as he reflected on a miserable start to his reign as manager and warned the current squad they had to show they could cope with the pressures of playing at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal’s first Premier League match ended in a 2-1 home defeat to Swansea City but the new manager said he had already been aware they needed to go into the transfer market if they wanted to be realistic challengers for the title. “It is very disappointing for the players, the fans, for me, my staff. When you have preparation time and you win everything [in pre-season] and then lose your first match, that cannot be worse.
“It is not good because we have built up a lot of confidence and it shall be smashed down because of this result. But we have to know it is only one game of many games and you shall not be the champion at this moment, you shall be the champion in May.”
Van Gaal was asked whether the current squad was good enough to aim for the title or whether he needed to bring in more signings. “That is not a question because I knew that before this game. Of course we need defenders. It is also the question if we can play like a team and if we can reach the [right] level. Today, we didn’t reach that level. When you don’t play like a team, when you miss the chances, it is very difficult because every team shall create chances against us because we are playing with a big space behind us.
“I have said before that because of our wins in the United States and against Valencia the expectation is so high, and I have seen in the first half a lot of players very nervous, making the wrong choices, and that is a pity. These players have to get used to that expectation because this is Manchester United. You have to cope with that pressure. I have said to them in the dressing room: ‘I cannot say you didn’t do your very best, unbelievable work, fantastic mentality, but reaching the level is difficult, not only running but using your brain and then you can play like a team.’ In that, we have failed today.”
Van Gaal said Robin van Persie, short of fitness after a post-World Cup break, could be involved in their game at Sunderland next weekend but David Moyes’s successor clearly wants the club to bring in some much-needed players before the transfer window closes. “I thought that before this match. When we were playing in the United States I saw the same. I know in what positions we need better players but I won’t discuss [how many] with you.”