Louis van Gaal insists David De Gea will not leave Manchester United before the transfer window shuts. De Gea will once again be in the stands when United take on Newcastle at Old Trafford on Saturday because Van Gaal feels the Spaniard is still not able to focus properly because of Real Madrid’s interest in him.
According to reports in Spain, the 10-time European champions will make one last attempt to sign the goalkeeper before the window shuts on September 1. But after a week in which United’s reputation took a blow following Pedro’s move to Chelsea, Van Gaal came out fighting.
The Dutchman insists the lure of Manchester United remains as strong as their desire to hold on to their two-time player of the year.
“I think when Manchester United wants a player he shall come, besides when a club is not selling,” the United manager said. “It is the same with us. We are not selling De Gea.”
Van Gaal launched a passionate defence of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward despite the fact that former target Pedro signed for Chelsea this week, rather than United.
“I have the idea you want to separate Ed Woodward with me. Never. Never,’’ Van Gaal said. “Because every day I am updated by him and I trust him.
“I don’t think they (the critics) have to doubt Ed Woodward because he has proven already for many, many years he is the right person on the right spot.’’
Senior sources at Old Trafford insisted this week that it was Van Gaal, not Pedro, who pulled the plug on the pursuit of the forward and the United boss seemed to corroborate that idea.
“I think when we want Pedro it was not any problem because there was a clause in his contract,’’ Van Gaal said. “It was the easiest transfer. I have said before what we are doing is guiding a process and in that process we make decisions.’’
Despite bristling at constant questioning regarding Pedro, Van Gaal suggested he is not too disheartened at failing to sign the forward, and claimed he would be happy to go through to the new year with the squad he currently has.
When asked whether there would be any more signings before the transfer window shuts, Van Gaal said: “You have to wait to see. It’s not any pressure for me. We have 28 players. We did it last season without Pedro.
“When it is like that, I go with this squad because we have 28 players and I have said already now we have a better balanced selection. When we buy it has to be a contribution to our selection and it has to be not against any price.”
Re: Pedro So Man UTD and Van Gaal chasing Pedro, and dont get him. Mourinho just gives him a call Does anybody believe that story…?
— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) August 21, 2015
It is understood Van Gaal has now turned his attention to Southampton winger Sadio Mane. Van Gaal said he would not speak publicly on Mane as he did not want to ‘’interfere’’ with the club’s pursuit of the Senegalese.
He added: “I cannot answer that question neither because I cannot interfere. I don’t want to interfere. It’s for Ed Woodward doing the things and he does it very well, I think.’’
If history is anything to go by, Van Gaal will be able to rely on one of his current crop to find the goals against Newcastle today. Wayne Rooney has scored 11 goals in 17 Premier League starts for United against the Magpies and Toon boss Steve McClaren believes the striker may not be fully appreciated until 10 years after he hangs up his boots.
The 54-year-old, who worked with Rooney during his spell in charge of the England team, has no doubt about his enduring quality for both club and country.
He said: “However much you may criticise, when he is long gone and finished and you look back, he will be one of the greatest ever to play for England. He may not be appreciated now, but he will be in 10 years’ time.
“That is always the way of things – and probably his best is still to come.”
Arsenal entertain Liverpool on Monday in the latest round of Premier League games and will be hoping to stay on track after a surprise defeat and a victory in their opening two games, while Liverpool have collected maximum points from their games.
Andy Gray and Richard Keys who front beIn Sports Premier League coverage, discuss the match and this weekend’s other fixtures.
Andy Gray: Arsenal had a fabulous pre-season and came into the new campaign looking calm and assured but sometimes when you think you are in great form you can become a little bit cocky and a bit too casual and I honestly believe that’s what happened to them against West Ham.
I think they thought: (a) they never beat us (b) we are a better team than them and (c) we are at home. So when they got beat it gave them a bit of a kick up the backside which was the best thing that could have happened to them. They showed they had learned their lesson last week when they went to Crystal Palace, which is not an easy place to get a result, and came away with three points.
I was talking to Richard the other day about who has the best team in the Premier League. For me, the best team is Chelsea but the best squad in my opinion is Arsenal. They have far more strength in depth than Chelsea so I think they will be pushing for the league title this season.
If Arsene Wenger can get Karim Benzema out of Real Madrid it will be a bonus but if not there is no point in adding to what is already a really good squad. They already have a proven goal scorer in Olivier Giroud and although he doesn’t have the pace Thierry Henry had or that Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez have he gives them a threat in the air and a focal point in the team.
As for Liverpool I think they are still lightweight. They have won two games 1-0 without playing well in either of them. They beat Stoke with a great finish from Philippe Coutinho but that apart there was nothing between the teams and Bournemouth were unlucky at Anfield.
Christian Benteke has given Liverpool new options because they can now launch the ball long into the final third of the pitch which they couldn’t really do last season when they passed it around too much without creating any chances.
Benteke is not just a big lump who stands up there as a target man. He has a good touch, he can run with the ball and bring others into play so he could cause Arsenal problems on Monday.
However, the Gunners are the better side and if you look at their bench you will see it is packed with quality footballers and that depth will be their strength this year. 2-1
Richard Keys: Arsenal’s Achilles heel remains their inability to recognise danger as was the case when they got mugged by West Ham. As Andy says, that was down to a bit of complacency.
I said they would win at Palace because they would have been stung by that defeat, and I was proved right, so I expect them to come off that win and beat Liverpool because so far I have seen nothing from Brendan Rodgers side so far that suggests they can gatecrash the top four.
Ok, they did well at Stoke with a good solid performance but they were fortunate against Bournemouth and I don’t think they have got the tools to go for the jugular in the way they used to with Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez.
Benteke has given them something extra and we have already seen them punting balls from back to front and they might do that against Arsenal but if the Gunners start moving the ball well I think they will win this comfortably. 2-1
Man United v Newcastle
AG: I can’t remember too many times when Newcastle have left Old Trafford with anything more than a cup of tea and a sandwich and I can’t see that changing.
United’s form has been patchy and Wayne Rooney is not performing at his best at the moment. He is getting drawn back into midfield looking for the ball instead of staying up top but I think he will score today. Newcastle are a work in progress and have got it all to do this season. 2-0.
RK: United are flattering to deceive. They are not playing the Manchester United way; there is no pace or width. Memphis Depay had a good night in the Champions League play-off against Club Brugge but so he should against that sort of opposition. However, Newcastle look like a bottom half team. 2-0.
Everton v Man City
AG: Everton’s performance at Southampton was as good as I have seen for a couple of years. What they haven’t done often enough is get a front man involved right from the off.
Against Southampton they got Romelu Lukaku involved straight away, stopped passing the ball around for the sake of it, and it made all the difference. City will be a far tougher proposition but I think Everton can get a point. 1-1.
RK: Everton were brilliant at Southampton and I can see them scoring against City. Manuel Pellegrini’s boys have been awesome and Nicolas Otamendi looks like a good signing but this is my surprise result. 1-1.
Leicester v Tottenham
AG: Tottenham have been unconvincing start to the season while Leicester have defied all logic so far but they have to slip up sometime so I’m going for 2-2.
RK: I think Claudio Ranieri has realised that he has a good squad and support network around him and has left it alone rather than tinkering which may be the secret of their success so far. Mauricio Pochettino looks lost at Spurs and if Leicester get up a head of steam they can stroll this 3-1.
West Brom v Chelsea
AG: Chelsea have to go and get something out of this game. West Brom boss Tony Pulis is strengthening his squad but I don’t think they are good enough to beat Jose Mourinho’s side. 1-2
RK: Definitely a must-win for Chelsea or they could find themselves like Arsenal last year when they were too many points back. If West Brom dig in they can cause Chelsea some problems but the need to win will be decisive. 1-2
Watford v Southampton
AG: Not much to separate these two sides and although Southampton were demolished by Everton last week they are a good side on their day. 1-3
RK: The fact that Southampton have been distracted by the Europa League and speculation about players moving on will play into Watford’s hands. 1-0
Norwich v Stoke
AG: Norwich will be confident after their result against Sunderland and although Stoke will be a much bigger test for them I think they will have the edge. 1-0
RK: I am going for a Stoke win. Norwich did well at Sunderland but Stoke have got something going on. To come back from two down last week at Spurs showed they cannot be taken lightly. 1-2
Sunderland v Swansea
AG: We are only two games into the season and Sunderland are already odds-on to get relegated. They look a mess and I can’t see it changing any time soon. 2-1
RK: This will be a stroll for Swansea and if things don’t improve at Sunderland I can see Dick Advocaat walking out the door at Sunderland. They are a shambles. 0-3
West Ham v Bournemouth
AG: Bournemouth put in a spirited performance against Liverpool and were a bit unlucky to come away with nothing but I think they are going to find this league difficult. West Ham have enough to take all three points with a 1-0 win.
RK: I don’t think there are many goals in Bournemouth but I think they might have enough to get a point at West Ham who have started to play like a bottom six side. 1-1
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa
AG: Villa look very ordinary at the moment while Palace are in pretty good shape and are tough to beat at home. 2-0.
RK: I think this might be a tough season for Tim Sherwood’s side while Palace look solid under Alan Pardew. 2-0.
Manuel Pellegrini insists Manchester City signed Nicolas Otamendi because he wanted a new central defender.
City this week bought Otamendi from Valencia for around £32 million (Dh185m) having previously given little indication they were seeking a player in that position.
It was suggested the Spanish club may have pushed for the deal because they owe City after agreeing to sign Alvaro Negredo for £24m (Dh139m) last year, but manager Pellegrini says that was not a factor.
He said: “(There was) not a change of mind in the last moment. “We tried to buy a centre-back from the beginning of this new season. For different reasons we couldn’t buy before. Always in my mind was to bring in a centre-back this year.
“We worked during the summer with different options. We moved a lot of different options. Finally we agreed that the best option was Otamendi but, I repeat, it was the idea I had from the beginning.”
There were also reports that City defender Eliaquim Mangala, a £42m (Dh69m) signing last year, could move to Valencia on loan as part of the deal for Otamendi. Pellegrini admits this possibility was raised but he refused.