Louis van Gaal and Chris Smalling.

Louis van Gaal calls Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, Pele

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Louis van Gaal has admitted he struggles to remember the first name of Manchester United defender Chris Smalling so has come up with a nickname for the England international.

The Dutch manager infamously called Smalling 'Mike' during the club's pre-season tour of the United States before referring to him as 'Michael' after the Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow in November.

Van Gaal also forgot the name of recently recalled forward Will Keane, mistaking him for his brother Michael during his press conference prior to Saturday afternoon's FA Cup third round tie with Sheffield United.


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After being informed of his mistakes, the Red Devils boss joked, per the Daily Mail: "Or Will Keane... Michael is an easy name for me!

"I said to "Mike" Smalling that I call him Pele because he had a fantastic move so it is easier to call him Pele now."

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The atmosphere around Old Trafford seems to have softened in recent weeks. Following the 2-0 away defeat to Stoke City, it appeared Van Gaal's days were numbered.

However, improved performances against Chelsea and Swansea City have given the manager some much-needed respite.

Manchester United v Swansea City - Premier League

The 2-1 victory over Swansea saw United put an end to their eight-game winless run and Saturday's tie with the League One outfit should provide a welcome distraction from the Premier League. 

Three weeks ago, the boss held a meeting with senior figures Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Michael Carrick and Chris Smalling.

The players reportedly asked Van Gaal to relax his strict approach and make changes to his training regime that made them feel like robots. 

Something had to give and it appears the notoriously stubborn manager took heed of his precarious position before the New Year.

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Louis van Gaal
Chris Smalling
Premier League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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