Thursday 20 October 2016

'Confidence is coming back to United' - Darmian

Italian positive despite poor show in Cup win

Sheffield United’s Irish striker Conor Sammon challenges Manchester United’s Matteo Darmian during the FA Cup third round tie at Old Trafford last Saturday.
Sheffield United’s Irish striker Conor Sammon challenges Manchester United’s Matteo Darmian during the FA Cup third round tie at Old Trafford last Saturday.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal walks off the field at the end of Saturday’s win over Sheffield United.

Manchester United fans may be feeling low, but Matteo Darmian insists confidence within the squad is improving despite recent poor performances.

United fans vented their anger at Louis van Gaal on Saturday as they scraped into the fourth round of the FA Cup by the finest of margins at Old Trafford.

League One side Sheffield United held Van Gaal's team until injury time, when Wayne Rooney (below) scored a penalty to send the 20-time English champions into the last 32 of the competition.

United's inability to score in the first period for the 10th consecutive home game prompted boos from the home crowd at half-time, while Marouane Fellaini was jeered when he was substituted.


Ironic cheers were heard when George Long was tested for the first time in the 69th minute. Darmian delivered the shot, a weak effort which the Blades goalkeeper gathered comfortably.

The Italian right-back preferred to offer only positive thoughts after the match and claimed United were always going to find it hard to break down Nigel Adkins' men because of the defensive tactics they adopted.

"It is difficult for us because Sheffield United, like a lot of teams when they come here, have all their team behind the ball and behind the 60-metre line it is not easy to find space," the United defender said.

"Sometimes we tried to pass the ball in behind to create the space.

"This sort of game can always happen with a team from League One but we fight and in the end we got the penalty, we scored it, we won and we are happy with the result.

"Now we have to continue in the way we have started the New Year. We have beaten Swansea and won today and now we must continue in this way."

The United fans who paid to attend Saturday's third round tie will find it harder to think so positively, but the fact the team has now won back to back games appears to have improved self-belief in the dressing room ahead of tomorrow's trip to Newcastle.

"Wins always help to increase our confidence," Darmian added.

"Now we have two days to prepare for the game with Newcastle. We have to recover and then focus on that game."

Like his team, Darmian began the season reasonably well until a hamstring injury kept him out for the majority of December, when United went on their worst run in 26 years.

The Italy international was linked with a return to his homeland during his period in the sidelines - but he insists he has no intention of leaving Old Trafford.

The 26-year-old summer signing from Torino said: "I am happy here with the team, the staff and the city.

"I am happy so I just try to ignore the rumours. I want to continue on my way.

"To return after a hamstring injury is not easy. Sometimes it affects you mentally. It is not easy. But now I feel good. I want to play like I did at the beginning of the season and that is what I'm trying to do.

"I think the manager is happy with my progress and when I train I try to improve day by day."

United received another blow on Saturday with the news Bastian Schweinsteiger is likely to miss Tuesday's Premier League game at Newcastle because of an injury suffered at the end of the third-round tie.

"It shall be difficult of course (for Schweinsteiger to face Newcastle)," United manager Van Gaal said. "I think he has a knee problem."

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