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Louis van Gaal: Manchester United Are a Stronger Team Than Last Season

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Louis van Gaal's men fell to a narrow 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at The Hawthorns as Salomon Rondon's second-half strike inflicted United's first loss in five games with the hosts' only clear-cut opportunity.

Speaking after the match, United manager Louis van Gaal said referees needed to understand the character of players after Mata was sent off.

His first yellow card came for encroachment at Darren Fletcher's free kick, with the second following soon afterwards for a foul on the same player. "A referee has to decide within one second but when you know the player, Mata never hurts a player". We have played for 60 minutes with 11 men, but we were not uncomfortable and we did not give too many chances away.

"When you see at the end the chances that West Bromwich Albion have created in comparison with us, it was an unnecessary loss".

With ten Premier League games to go, the Baggies seemingly have little to play for now, situated 11 points from a European spot, and 12 points above the relegation zone.

Van Gaal admitted the defeat was a "big blow" to United's hopes of finishing in the top four and said the sending-off - which he felt Mata should have done better to avoid - was the reason his side lost. "But now you lose, and lose contact with the first four or five". The captain said: "We are very disappointed".

He said: 'None, that is the first.' I assumed that already. "I tried to take a quick free-kick and got blocked and then tried to start a counter attack and got tripped". Players are coming back but still I have to solve a problem every week in my line-up, so when players are coming back, they are not fit enough.

Asked what United require from their final nine league games to finish in the top four, the Dutchman replied: "27 points". "If we can get to 40 points in the next couple of games then we'll be pushing on to see if we can get more points than the club has achieved before".

"If the linesman gives it for the touch of the knee in the last minute, I think it is harsh". "So, we have to train more and let them play in the second team".

 

"The decision was the turning point in the match".

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