Louis van Gaal has slammed Chris Smalling as “stupid” after the defender saw red in the first half of Manchester United’s 1-0 derby defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were favourites going into the Premier League clash, but it was the visitors who started the better of the two sides and were well in that game until seven minutes before half time, when some extreme mindlessness struck.
Smalling had already been booked for blocking a Joe Hart clearance when he had the ball in his hands, but followed it up five minutes later with an unbelievably rash challenge on James Milner, giving referee Michael Oliver no choice but to show him a sec on yellow card.
The second yellow card was stupid
The England defender knew his fate as soon as he made the challenge - it was painfully evident in the look on his face - and, unsurprisingly, Van Gaal was less than impressed with one of his only fit central defenders.
"The sending off is not one of those things. As a player you have to control your aggression,” the Dutchman told reporters after the match.
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“I didn't see the first yellow but the second you know as a player you have a yellow, so you have to handle it differently. I said that to the players. In the derby you have to be careful. The second yellow card was stupid.”
After Smalling was dismissed Manchester United’s task got understandably more difficult and they could nay hold out until just after the hour, when Sergio Aguero was on hand to turn in a Milner cut back.
Went down with a fight
Despite being down to ten men, Van Gaal can take heart from the reaction of his players in the latter stages of the game. After Manchester City eased up a bit in their approach, the Red Devils managed to get a foothold in the game and could have equalised.
As it was, they could not find that one moment of quality to beat Joe Hart and they now sit 13 points behind leaders Chelsea and surely any hope of lifting the Premier League trophy must be put aside in favour of simply getting back into the top four.