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Louis van Gaal launches defence of tactics ahead of Liverpool clash

SoccerBy Sunday World
Van Gaal: We have to be fighting for first position
Van Gaal: We have to be fighting for first position

Louis Van Gaal has launched another defence of his perceived negative tactics ahead of Sunday's trip to Liverpool and warned there must be more to come if Manchester United are to regain their position at the pinnacle of the Premier League.

Despite being pilloried for the number of blanks drawn by his side this season, Van Gaal insists United must learn more from how Jose Mourinho's Chelsea ground out the results last year on their way to another top-flight title.

His reiteration of his controversial methods comes at the end of a week in which he criticised his side for blowing a two-goal lead in what turned out to a rare and richly entertaining 3-3 draw with struggling Newcastle at St James's Park.

And it is in stark contrast to his opposite number on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp, who spent his own pre-match press conference expounding upon his belief that pure entertainment is the best way to win over fans and ultimately earn results.

Van Gaal said: "We have to be fighting for first position and now we are not fighting for first position when we don't win at Newcastle in those circumstances.

"When you are in those circumstances you have to control the game. For example Chelsea last year did that - they won with one goal difference - they finished the game then, and a champion has to do that."

Van Gaal conceded he found himself in the unusual position of being less pleased than United's own supporters following the midweek result, in a strange shift in the pressure which has been accumulating on the Dutchman's shoulders.

He can expect more calls to quit if he fails to get a result at Anfield over Klopp, whom he encountered four times during their respective managerial careers in the Bundesliga, and whom he obviously believes will be a success in the Premier League.

Another German, Bastian Schweinsteiger, looks almost certain to miss out on Sunday's trip through injury, while Michael Carrick is also out and Adnan Januzaj could return to the bench after the end of his loan spell in Germany.

Defender Matteo Darmian will hope for a more stable performance than his predecessor as he prepares to become the first Italian to represent United in a game at Anfield since inconsistent keeper Massimo Taibi in 1999.

Taibi actually picked up the man of the match award when he made his debut in the equivalent fixture but his United career was soon brought to a close after a series of high-profile and calamitous errors.

Darmian told MUTV he is relishing the start of his Old Trafford career despite the trying circumstances this season, as he looks to continue building towards potential international glory with Italy in Euro 2016 this summer.

He said: "I'm good and happy to stay here at a big club like Manchester United. I'm happy and I want to continue.

"It's been a big season for me and hopefully 2016 will be similar for me. Last summer, I signed for a big club in United and, next summer, the European Championship is a big chance for me where we will fight to win it with Italy."