Uefa Europa League 2015-16

Horny Red Devils: Under-pressure Louis van Gaal wants his players to show ‘desire’ in Europa League

Dutch manager wants his players to be up for the fight against FC Midtjylland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 February, 2016, 10:42am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 February, 2016, 10:43am

Louis van Gaal was signing autographs after Manchester United’s victory in the FA Cup on Monday when one voice from a group of mostly young fans wished the Dutchman the best of luck for the rest of the season.

We need that, otherwise, I shall be sacked
Louis van Gaal to a fan who wished him luck

“We need that,” Van Gaal replied straight-faced, without looking up to the well-wisher. “Otherwise, I shall be sacked.”

Barely a day goes by without fevered discussion about Van Gaal’s future at Old Trafford, and it could be on even more shaky ground if United are eliminated by little-known Danish club FC Midtjylland after the second leg of the Europa League’s first knockout round on Thursday. United lost the first leg 2-1 in arguably the lowest point in Van Gaal’s tenure.

In dominating the second half of that match, Midtjylland – founded in 1999, the year United won the Champions League-Premier League-FA Cup treble during their glory days under Sir Alex Ferguson – showed it will be no pushover.

READ MORE: Uefa Europa League round-up: Van Gaal’s despair deepens in Denmark, Klopp frustrated at Augsburg, Valencia give Neville boost

Asked if matching Midtjylland’s desire would be key for United, Van Gaal said on Wednesday: “You are right, you are right – your word is fantastic: desire. ‘Hungry’ and a lot of times I use the word ‘horny’ to my players.”

“I do think that Midtjylland had a very good organisation, very detailed, and the players want to perform that organisation,” Van Gaal added.

READ ALL OF OUR UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE 2015-16 COVERAGE HERE

Elimination would restrict the chances of United qualifying for next season’s Champions League, with a place on offer for winning the Europa League. The only other route for United would be to finish in the Premier League’s top four and they are currently in fifth place, six points adrift of fourth.

Being in the Champions League is likely a minimum requirement for Van Gaal if he is to stay on for a third season at United.

Anthony Martial’s away goal at Midtjylland, who won the Danish league title for the first time last season, has given United a good chance of advancing to the last 16. But an injury list currently containing up to 14 players, including captain Wayne Rooney and goalkeeper David de Gea, is proving a problem for Van Gaal with United playing three games in six days this week.

Desire. ‘Hungry’ and a lot of times I use the word ‘horny’ to my players
Louis van Gaal

Argentina defender Marcos Rojo could return from a shoulder injury, Van Gaal said Wednesday.

Title contender Arsenal visit Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday, and Van Gaal risks leaving his team fatigued for that match if he fields a full-strength lineup on Thursday. He may, though, have little choice given the injury concerns.