Updated: Saturday, 22nd February 2020 @ 5:50am

Van Gaal: 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but Scholes will never hurt me'

Van Gaal: 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but Scholes will never hurt me'

| By Tom Avery

Louis van Gaal has denied claims by former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes that his side are not allowed to take risks.

United lost a penalty shootout to Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday after a goalless 120 minutes at Old Trafford, just days after an uninspiring attacking display against fierce rivals Manchester City also ended in stalemate.

Van Gaal has insisted that the former Old Trafford great’s remarks have not got under his skin, but the former Netherlands manager did question what Scholes’ motives behind his comments.

"It has no effect on me whatsoever,” he said.

“He doesn't have the responsibility, so he can say anything. But why is he saying something? Because of the benefit of the club, or the benefit of himself?

"You have an expression in England and it is 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me'.

“It is a fantastic expression.

"I do not agree with his opinion but I don't want to defend myself – I can't defend because he is a legend and has a lot of resonance, I hear.

“If you are a legend, you have to speak with the manager, or with his friend Ryan Giggs, or with Ed Woodward, but not because he is paid and then you have to say something.”

Scholes praised Van Gaal on how he has made the Red Devils an organised defensive unit but the legendary midfielder bemoaned the side’s lack of attacking flair and style of play.

“I actually think the team is brilliantly coached to defend,” he told BBC Radio.

“I think the hardest thing to do is to coach scoring goals, creativity and to have players who are off the cuff.

"It's a team now you wouldn't want to play against because they're tightly organised.

"But it seems he doesn't want players to beat men and it's probably not a team I'd have enjoyed playing in."

United may only be two points behind league leaders Manchester City but the 20-times champions have only managed 15 goals in the Premier League, the lowest amongst the current top four.

Wayne Rooney’s contribution this season continues to be criticised, with the former Everton man missing a pivotal penalty against Middlesbrough and only producing two goals in nine Premier League outings thus far.

But Scholes, who amassed 718 appearances for United, was quick to defend his former team mate and insisted that any striker would find it hard to adapt to the Dutchman’s style.

"I was at the derby on Sunday and Rooney's movement was brilliant but when he's playing in that team there's no one prepared to pass to him,” he said.

“I think after 20 minutes you'd be tearing you hair out.

"I played with some brilliant centre forwards and I don't think they could play in this team – the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and Teddy Sheringham.

"You don't get crosses into the box or midfielders looking for runs.”

Van Gaal will be eager to silence the critics with an impressive attacking display against Crystal Palace this Saturday.

Images courtesy of Paul Blank and James Adams, via Wikipedia, with thanks