Football

Louis van Gaal ensures there will be no second leg complacency

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Louis van Gaal is sure there will be no complacency from his Manchester United players when they take on Club Brugge on Wednesday night.

United are overwhelming favourites to secure a return to the Champions League group stages having won the first leg of their play-off last week 3-1.

Brugge manager Michel Preud'homme claimed on the eve of the second leg in Belgium that it would take a "miracle" for his injury-ravaged squad to overturn United's two-goal advantage.

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But Van Gaal has told his players to be wary of Preud'homme's team, who came from 2-1 down to beat Panathinaikos 4-2 over two legs in the previous qualifying round.

"They won against their Greek opponent 3-0 so they are capable to do that with the support of the fans," the United manager said.

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"I don't think my players shall take it easy."

A return to the group stages after a one-year hiatus would please the club's accountants, their sponsors, the board, the fans, and the manager, who won the competition 20 years ago with Ajax.

That year Van Gaal deployed teenagers like Patrick Kluivert and Clarence Seedorf alongside seasoned professionals like Danny Blind and Frank Rijkaard to devastating effect.

Ajax upset the odds to beat AC Milan in the final, and this year Van Gaal thinks he has a squad of a similar blend.

"Yes, I believe in that. I believe more in the mix than players only from 27 to 34," he said.

"We won the final with 18, 19 year-olds but also with players like Carrick and Schweinsteiger."

Van Gaal has brought just 18 players to Flanders for the second leg.

Marouane Fellaini looks likely to start after scoring the vital third goal in stoppage time last week.

Van Gaal revealed on the eve of the match that he intends to use the 6ft 4in Belgian as a striker this term, rather than in midfield, which in part explains why United are yet to buy a forward despite their struggles in front of goal.

"He can play in a nine position and a 10," Van Gaal said.

"He can also play at six and eight, but this year he shall play more at nine and 10 because there we have other players."

Fellaini, meanwhile, is keen to play up front if his manager believes that is the best place for him.

"In the past I have played number 10 and number nine sometimes so I can play there and help my team-mates and my team," Fellaini said.

"It is different to play midfield and striker but I enjoy all the positions I can play."

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Topics:
Football
Louis van Gaal
UEFA Champions League
Premier League
Manchester United

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