Louis van Gaal has insisted that he had no choice but to axe Angel di Maria during Manchester United’s victory over Sunderland on Saturday and admitted that the £60million man is suffering a crisis of confidence.
Di Maria was substituted at half time in the 2-0 win and was replaced by youngster Adnan Januzaj, who was impressive in a second half that saw Wayne Rooney score twice to seal the win after the Black Cats went down to ten men.
However, the first half was very dull and Di Maria struggled to make any impact at all, while also giving the ball away too often and not providing quality when given opportunities to get balls into the box.
Van Gaal believes that he had to remove the former Real Madrid star after only 45 minutes at Old Trafford if they were going to win the match, putting the summer signing’s malaise to his still not being adjusted to the Premier League and a loss of confidence connected with that.
"He is going forwards but I want to win as a manager,” he is quoted as saying after the match by the Manchester Evening News.
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“I have to observe and analyse and I have to take the steps that are necessary and I always thought in theory that I could change Angel for Januzaj and then we were in the second half better so I cannot say it was a bad decision.
"The difficulty is that the players have to adapt to the Premier League. I have explained already the rhythm of the game is so high, much higher than in other countries and he has to adapt to the culture so we have to give him time and lift his confidence again, that's also important.
"He is also a human being like me and you and you can make mistakes but he is a top sportsman. So he shall overcome this period."
Di Maria has come in for some very harsh criticism in recent weeks and while his performances have been very poor during that time, there has been very little understanding over the kind of struggle Van Gaal is describing.
There have only been flashes of brilliance from the Argentina international and that kind of sketchy form is not unusual for players coming to the Premier League for the first time. There are no doubts about Di Maria’s quality and he will come good, he just needs time.
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