Monday 22 January 2018

LVG: Fellaini to keep his cool at Goodison

Van Gaal eyes third place to avoid pitfalls of CL play-off


LOUIS van Gaal has spoken to Marouane Fellaini about the pitfalls of returning to his former club Everton in tomorrow's Premier League clash.

It will be the first time in-form Fellaini has returned to Goodison Park since Everton sold him to Manchester United for £27.5million.

Fellaini was a cult hero at Goodison after spending five successful years at the club, so his decision to leave for United did not go down well with a number of Everton fans. But Van Gaal has no concerns about Fellaini's temperament, nor his ability to take his old team apart.

"Marouane Fellaini has qualities and we want to let them dominate in a team and that's why his performances are better just now," Van Gaal said.

"I have spoken with Fellaini because I know this (is his first game back there).

"Fellaini is always dry in his answers. He said, 'It's a game...'. (I said,) 'Yes, but it's a special game for you'.

"I hope the fans shall receive him like the Chelsea fans received Juan Mata because I like that very much. I hope it's like that."

Last week's defeat at Chelsea brought to an end a run of six straight wins for United.

That streak had cemented their place in the top four, but Van Gaal is still not completely happy with his team's position in the table. Ideally he would like them to be top of the pile, but he acknowledged last week that was almost impossible after dropping 11 points behind leaders Chelsea.

He would still like to finish above Manchester City, who are one point behind the Red Devils in fourth, as that would mean United would qualify directly for the Champions League group stages.

Van Gaal experienced a nervy Champions League qualifier against Skonto Riga in 1997 when his Barcelona team - which included the likes of Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique and Luis Figo - edged into the group stages with a 4-2 victory over two legs.

"It is more easy (if you finish third)," he said.

"Your preparation for the new season is more easy then.

"Normally you have to win that kind of match because Manchester United shall be in the stronger group so it's not very difficult.

"They (the board) have set this goal (of a top four finish) for me to achieve."

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