herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Louis van Gaal believes Manchester United are firm favourites to win the FA Cup this year.

Reds boss says club have 'real chance' to end 11-year drought

Louis van Gaal believes Manchester United are firm favourites to win the FA Cup this year.

Eleven days after drawing 0-0 at the Abbey Stadium, United eased past Cambridge 3-0 in the fourth-round replay at Old Trafford last night.

Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo and James Wilson all found the net in the victory, which sent United through to a fifth-round tie at League One Preston.

With Chelsea and Manchester City out of the FA Cup, United are the highest-ranked team left in the competition and Van Gaal is keen to take advantage.

"We have a real chance now," the United boss said.

"Why? Because we are the highest-qualified team in the FA Cup.

"I am not a casino man. But of course I think the highest-qualified teams have more possibilities to win than lower-qualified teams.

"Maybe people are betting on us. I am not allowed to (but) I give you a tip."

Van Gaal has enjoyed success in cup competitions throughout his long career.

The 63-year-old lifted the Copa del Rey with Barcelona and also won the KNVB Cup with Ajax and the DFB Pokal with Bayern Munich.

And with United trailing leaders Chelsea by 10 points in the Premier League, the FA Cup seems the best chance the Dutchman has of winning silverware in his first year at Old Trafford.

"For the club, the fans, the coach and my staff, we want to win a title this year and the biggest chance is the FA Cup," Van Gaal said. "For me, personally, I won always a title in my first year everywhere I worked."

Van Gaal found life difficult in the original fixture at Cambridge just under two weeks ago, and it was the same story for the first 25 minutes of the replay.

In fact, the hosts should have gone behind in the first minute.

Just 50 seconds had elapsed when Daley Blind accidentally knocked the ball into Tom Elliott's path, but luckily for United, his curling shot hit the post and bounced out to safety.

Mata finally breached the Cambridge defence when he stabbed in Marouane Fellaini's knock down in the 25th minute and soon after Rojo headed in Robin van Persie's cross to clinch his first goal for the Red Devils.

Substitute Wilson ended Cambridge's heart-warming FA Cup run with his second goal of the season.

Although his team could not pull off a shock win, Cambridge manager Richard Money -who brough on former Cork City star Gearóid Morrissey in the second half - enjoyed the trip to Old Trafford, which is set to net the club up to £1.5million.

"It means we can be safe and stable financially," Money said.

"We are not going to have a spending spree in the summer and have one massive effort to be promoted.

"We need to grow. We need a new stadium and a new training ground or new facilities at the training ground. That is what the cup run will do for us."

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