Manchester: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admits today's Champions League play-off against Club Brugge will be the most pressurised games of his tenure so far. The Red Devils host the Belgian Pro League side in the first leg at Old Trafford today seeking a return to European football's elite competition after a one-season hiatus.
Louis van Gaal
Given the extra revenue that participation will generate United's hierarchy made a place in the group stage a key target for van Gaal, while expectation among the club's supporters remains high. And when asked if the tie will represent the most significant matches he has faced since he became manager, Van Gaal agreed saying: "Of course. Because the players want to participate, and the board wants to participate, but especially the fans want to participate so the pressure is high.
There is a lot of pressure because our aim and goal is to reach the Champions League. This kind of matches are difficult and because of the draw I think it is much more difficult because we have drawn Brugge and Brugge can defend very well, and they can attack also.
Pressure to deliver
"It will be a difficult match and that is why the pressure is high. Everyone wants to participate in the Champions League but first you have to beat Club Brugge." Speaking at a pre-match press conference ahead of the first leg, Van Gaal also addressed questions regarding the subdued start to the season made by United captain Wayne Rooney.
Rooney touched the ball once in the penalty area, in injury time, against Villa and has managed just three shots on target in both fixtures, but Van Gaal's faith in the 29-year-old has not wavered.
"I think all the media has written for one year and advised me I have to put him (Rooney) in the striker's position," Van Gaal said. "So it is very amazing that after two matches you are doubting your own opinion so I cannot understand that. But I have always confidence in my players." Van Gaal refused to divulge whether goalkeeper David de Gea would be considered for selection.