Louis van Gaal has challenged Manchester United to win their next three matches to reignite their Premier League title hopes following Saturday’s defeat at Bournemouth.
Frustrated boss Van Gaal blasted the sloppy defending that led to Bournemouth’s 2-1 victory, insisting United must heed a “strong lesson” from Dean Court defeat.
Junior Stanislas and Josh King fired the goals to send Bournemouth into raptures, just seven days after a 1-0 win at Chelsea, with midfielder Harry Arter playing despite his child passing away at birth this week.
United have now slumped to five matches without a win, but under-fire Van Gaal still maintains he can reverse the Old Trafford fortunes, which also saw them go out of the Champions League in midweek.
“I think that we have the selection to do that (win the league), but we are now in a very difficult position,” said Van Gaal.
“We have to make a revival this week, and that’s always very difficult because you have lost two in a row, and that doesn’t happen often for Manchester United.
“Two set plays, two goals: you cannot accept that as a manager, a player, a team, because we pay a lot of attention to it.
“Bournemouth benefit a lot in the corners and free-kicks and we have seen that, but still they scored twice.
“Also against Wolfsburg it was already the reason why we lost, so it’s a very strong lesson for us.
“Of course I’m concerned because we have lost two matches in a row, and that is not a usual thing, so we have to stick together and prepare for our match against Norwich.
“And you have to win, because otherwise it is always more difficult.
“It is already this week very difficult because my players are very disappointed.
“They have done everything, but they have lost.
“And then we shall do our job, but it is more difficult to prepare a game against Norwich when you have lost twice in a row.”
Jesse Lingard limped out of the lacklustre Bournemouth loss, with Van Gaal confirming the winger had suffered the recurrence of a previous leg problem.
United’s loss only exacerbates a frustrating week where 3-2 defeat in Wolfsburg dumped Van Gaal’s men out of the Champions League.
Now the beleaguered Dutch boss has called on his men to see off Norwich, Stoke and Chelsea before the turn of the year to keep their title hopes alive.
While United appear to have lost the winning edge that underscored Sir Alex Ferguson’s years of success, the former Holland boss still believes he can bring glory back to Old Trafford.
When asked if defeat to Bournemouth would shake his confidence for the fight ahead, Van Gaal replied with a firm “no”.
“When I see that my players want to do everything that we ask then I think that’s the most important thing,” said Van Gaal.
“The cohesion between the manager and his staff and the players, that’s the most important thing.
“And I have seen also how the bench was participating in the match, so we all wanted to win.
“And I think that’s the most important thing.
“Of course it’s disappointing if you lose two matches in a row in an important week, so now we have to stay there in a position to keep fighting.
“But still we are in a position, but we have to win.
“We have now to win three matches in a row for example, to be there still after Christmas.”
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A defiant Van Gaal also claimed he would not need to alter his long-term managerial strategies to guide United back to former glories.
“Only hard work, training sessions, preparation, focus – all the same things that I have done in the 25 years of my managership,” said Van Gaal, when quizzed on what would arrest his side’s slump.
“Only it is now also more difficult for my players to do that.
“But I shall challenge them, and we shall come back.”