EPL: Van Gaal's Christmas gift cheers up Manchester United players

Breaking from tradition, Red Devils' boss gives team holiday for Christmas a day before their clash with Newcastle today

Manchester: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has entered into the festive spirit by granting his players Christmas Day with their families ahead of today’s EPL meeting with Newcastle United.

Manchester United
Manchester United players celebrate a goal against Hull City at Old Trafford last month. Inset: Louis van Gaal. Pic/Getty Images.

Traditionally, players around England will be given Christmas morning off, to spend with their families, before training in the afternoon and playing fixtures on Boxing Day. But Van Gaal, who is experiencing England’s jam-packed festive programme for the first time, has broken with tradition and allowed United’s stars a day at home. “I changed it,” said Van Gaal. “I gave them Christmas free with their family. We shall come together the next day, to our training complex, and have all the meetings we have had all season. I believe in a total human being. The environment is important. They are more pleased to be at home with their wives and children. Then, I hope they shall give everything to beat the opponent.”

United host Newcastle and then, just 43 hours after the end of the game, play their second fixture of the holiday period against Tottenham Hotspur. Given the long injury list that has plagued Van Gaal in his debut season, the workload promises to be a challenge.

“The recovery period for a lot of players is impossible,” he said. “Some players need more hours, more days. I have to rotate, but then I need fit players. Now I am forced to select and for a manager, that is not so good. I don’t have so many fit players. That’s my problem.”

EPL Live Tonight:
. Chelsea vs West Ham: Star Sports 4 & HD 2, 18:00
. Manchester United vs Newcastle United: Star Sports 4 & HD 2, 20.30
. Burnley vs Liverpool: Star Sports 2, 20:30
. Arsenal vs Queens Park Rangers: Star Sports 4 & HD 2, 22:30
. West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester City: Star Sports 1, 23:00

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