SportSoccer

Van Gaal says he 'cannot afford' to lose any more games

SoccerBy Sunday World
Asked to ponder the implications of falling short, the Dutchman said: "I cannot afford it and Manchester United cannot afford it"
Asked to ponder the implications of falling short, the Dutchman said: "I cannot afford it and Manchester United cannot afford it"

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal accepts he "cannot afford" to lose any of the club's four remaining fixtures this season.

It has been another rocky campaign at Old Trafford but there remains the outside shot at redemption if they can put together a flawless run-in.

Maximum points against Norwich, West Ham and Bournemouth could give the Red Devils a chance of leapfrogging neighbours Manchester City into the Barclays Premier League's top four, with Crystal Palace waiting in the FA Cup final after that.

A Champions League spot and a first piece of major silverware since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013 would ease some of the pressure on Van Gaal, meaning the stakes are high from the moment United kick off at Carrow Road on Saturday lunchtime.

Asked to ponder the implications of falling short, the Dutchman said: "I cannot afford it and Manchester United cannot afford it, but in sport you can win and lose.

"It's hard to accept, but it is the truth.

"We have to win our matches because otherwise we cannot be in the first four - that's the pressure that we have. We have to fight until the end.

"We are always able to do that, I think, that's my belief, because of our quality.

"I want to win the (FA Cup) also, not only the (Champions League) qualification, because I think the FA Cup is a very important title in England.

"The pressure is high for everybody but also for Norwich because they have to win otherwise they can say goodbye to the Premier League."

The Canaries' plight at the foot of the table, where they are battling to avoid joining Aston Villa in the Sky Bet Championship, adds an extra element to the fixture.

So too does the fact that they won the previous meeting 2-1 at Old Trafford, arguably the high point of their campaign.

That result, which came in the midst of United's bleak and winless December, has not escaped Van Gaal's attention either.

"They won at Old Trafford, so we have to take revenge," he said.

"It's always difficult to fight against a team that fights to maintain their position in the Premier League from relegation.

"That's always very difficult to fight against, but that is not an excuse. We have to cope with that.

"It shall be a very tough game but in spite of that we have to win."