Van Gaal hails United spirit, Fellaini and Schweinsteiger

Date published: Sunday 13th March 2016 7:58

Louis van Gaal hailed Manchester United’s “fantastic” spirit but was disappointed with the fans’ reaction to Marouane Fellaini’s substitution.

Anthony Martial’s 83rd-minute equaliser earned United an FA Cup quarter-final replay after a 1-1 draw with a buoyant West Ham, who went ahead courtesy of a stunning Dimitri Payet free-kick.

Before Martial’s intervention, United looked to be heading for their third defeat in a week, but Van Gaal was delighted with the way his players kept fighting.

Van Gaal said: “For the first 15 minutes I think West Ham were the better team and they created a few chances, but after that we came back into the match.

“We have created chances and in the second half we were the better team. They scored out of a free-kick. We were behind.

“We have played against West Brom and lost, and Liverpool and lost this week, and when you come back from that I think it is amazing, and fantastic spirit in the team, in spite of a very nasty week. I am very proud of my players.

“We are still in three competitions.”

Payet’s 68th-minute free-kick, which beat David de Gea from distance with bend and dip, came out of the top drawer but there was controversy over whether he should still have been on the field. Just moments earlier he had arguably been lucky to escape receiving a second yellow card for diving in the penalty area.

Van Gaal said: “We can discuss every decision of the referee, but I can only say we are very unlucky this season with the decisions of the referee.”

With United trailing, Van Gaal changed the pattern of the game by sending on Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay in a double substitution after 76 minutes.

Of Schweinsteiger’s display, he said: “I think he did fantastically, but of course he played 15 minutes. Ninety minutes is different but I was very happy with him.”

One disappointing aspect for Van Gaal was the crowd’s reaction to the substitution of midfielder Fellaini, which was loudly cheered.

The Dutchman said: “I think Fellaini played a good match again. He performed well in our gameplan. That was disappointing but that was the only moment I was disappointed with because they were supporting our side in spite of two losses this week.

“Maybe they have another opinion to me.”

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