Van Gaal admits Fellaini ban could be crucial at West Ham
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has admitted the absence of the suspended Maroune Fellaini could be a hammer blow to his side's hope of winning a vital three points against West Ham at Upton Park on Tuesday.
The fixture will mark the last at the Hammers' current home ahead of their summer move to the Olympic Stadium on a night where emotions among everyone involved with the club will be sky high.
But Van Gaal's United side go there knowing victory in their final three games of the season would mean a top-four finish and an FA Cup trophy, with neighbours Manchester City now in their sights.
United will secure qualification for next season's Champions League if they win their final two Premier League games this season, but he says the loss of Fellaini is a problem he may not be able to solve.
Van Gaal conceded losing the midfielder could have a detrimental effect on his side's defensive capabilities, especially if they come up against Andy Carroll.
"Yes that is true," he replied when asked about Fellaini's absence, given he marked Carroll at every West Ham set-piece in that game.
"We are normally the smallest team in the Premier League so we always have problems with set plays.
"We have to cope with that and you are right, I can not deny that. It is the first time we are talking about our opponent and not about my sacking! Thank you, thank you for that.
"Yes. I am very worried about that. I am always organising. We always have a meeting about that - every game - and it also takes a long time to organise it well."
United won 2-1 in an FA Cup sixth-round replay at Upton Park on April 13, yet this game will be loaded with emotion as the Boleyn Ground is given a send off.
Asked if United can use the emotion of the night against West Ham, the Dutchman replied: "Yes it is a big night. I think the players shall feel that also.
"Tuesday we have to play against an opponent who says goodbye to the stadium. So they won't want to lose in their own stadium.
"They have already lost to Man United in the FA Cup match. That is also history. That is not good for us. And West Ham United is a very good team.
"We have a lot of respect for West Ham. I think it is a historical big club in England and so we don't want to spoil their party but we need the three points and that is different."
Anthony Martial could make a surprise return to the United line-up, after he pulled out of last Saturday's game against Norwich after picking up an injury in the warm-up.
It also remains to be seen if Martial will be fit to return, after Van Gaal confirmed it was more a precaution to not play him at Norwich.
"I cannot say that (he will come back) as we have to wait," he added.
"We have to wait if his muscle is still tight as I don't take any risks as he is a very important player. We don't want a rupture. That is very important for us."