As Manchester prepares for Sunday’s epic derby match, Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal addressed the media. Van Gaal’s team go to the Etihad on the back of a commendable performance against league leaders Chelsea, which ended in a tightly contested 1-1 draw.
The biggest news to come out of the press conference was that Colombian striker Radamel Falcao is set to sit out the derby owing to an injury.
There were rumours that Rooney had injured himself while he was serving a three-match suspension for his tackle on Stewart Downing in the game against West Ham, but Van Gaal was quick to dismiss the rumours and insisted his captain was fit to start.
“He was never injured,” Van Gaal said. “He shall play, he is my captain.
“He has scored a lot of goals against City, the most of any player. I am very happy that he can play, and he shall.”
Antonio Valencia is also rumoured to start, perhaps in place of Rafael who had a difficult time against Chelsea.
With City already opening up a four-point on United, Van Gaal would be keen for his team to put one over the city rivals. And City’s recent patchy form seems to have given the United manager even more confidence ahead of the derby.
“That is our goal, to win. It is possible, we are growing, we are developing ourselves.
“What we have seen of City in the last few matches was not so good. You never know.”
“Our goal is to win this game. It’s possible, we’re growing and developing. We have a good feeling about this match.”
Van Gaal also took time out to talk about Ryan Giggs’ involvement in transferring his much vaunted philosophy to the players, especially ahead of a game of this magnitude. The Dutchman’s answers hinted at a man who is well aware of what this game means to the fans.
“It’s one of 38 matches, but for the fans it is unbelievably big as a rivalry. I have felt that with some of the players.”
“This is the biggest derby that I shall manage.”
“When Ryan Giggs presented me with the analysis [of City], I felt more tension with him. That was good to see.”
“He has transferred the idea of emotion and I have transferred the idea of how we have to play.”
Maraoune Fellaini’s stock at Old Trafford has risen following two solid performances and the manager spoke glowingly about the Belgian midfielder.
“He has to continue with that because then I am very pleased.”
“He has made a great contribution and also the assist for the [Chelsea] goal,” said Van Gaal.
“He has had a lot of time out injured but when he is fit I have played him.”
With David Silva out injured, and Pelligrini’s men seemingly going through a bad patch, the onus is on the visitors to seize their chance to close the gap on City. A defeat could see City open up a 7-point gap on the red side of Manchester.
Nevertheless, it promises to be a cracking encounter between two teams that are yet to find their feet in the league.