Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was left infuriated by one of his players during the 1-1 draw against Stoke City on New Year’s Day.
The veteran Dutch coach’s private match notes were photographed after the final whistle - and whoever was responsible for the “stupid free-kick” noticed by Van Gaal must have feared the hairdryer treatment in the dressing room.
The Mirror speculate that the Manchester United player who took the set-piece in question may have been either Juan Mata or Ashley Young, although it’s difficult to know for sure.
Van Gaal's observations
Van Gaal, a keen note-taker during matches, was seen to have made several observations from the clash against the Potters - one of which looks to be ‘2 ball’, which could be shorthand for ‘second ball’.
Manchester United conceded their first goal inside the opening two minutes after failing to win the second ball following a Stoke City corner. Former United defender Ryan Shawcross was allowed to convert from close range under very little pressure inside the penalty area.
Radamel Falcao equalised midway through the first-half with a tap-in, but United could not find the winning goal that would have secured them all three points.
United close gap on Chelsea
Despite failing to win the match, the Red Devils still managed to close the gap on Premier League-leaders Chelsea to nine points following Jose Mourinho’s side’s shock 5-3 defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane later in the day.
But United now also find themselves nine points behind local rivals Manchester City, who secured a 3-2 win over Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium thanks to a late header from veteran midfielder Frank Lampard.
Van Gaal’s side remain on course to achieve their pre-season aim of a top-four finish, but can ill-afford to become complacent in the second half of the campaign.
Fourth-placed Southampton are now unbeaten in four matches following their mid-season blip; fifth-placed Tottenham are beginning to click under Mauricio Pochettino, while sixth-placed Arsenal always seem to finish inside the Champions League places come May.
After their FA Cup fixture against Yeovil Town on Sunday, Manchester United take on Southampton at Old Trafford, before a series of winnable matches against Queens Park Rangers, Leicester City and West Ham United.
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