Van Gaal: Referee, pitch contributed to United’s draw at Cambridge

Louis van Gaal said the state of the Abbey Stadium pitch, referee Chris Foy and his players were all reasons for Manchester United’s 0-0 FA Cup fourth-round draw with Cambridge United.

Despite being the lowest-ranked team left in the FA Cup and 76 places below Van Gaal’s side in the football pyramid, Cambridge were good value in forcing a lucrative replay at Old Trafford. Van Gaal was left frustrated with a lacklustre performance from his side but thought there were external factors that restricted them from making their quality count.  

"Every aspect of the match is against us," van Gaal said. "We have to come here and the pitch is not so good. That can influence your playing style. The opponents are giving a lot more than normally and defending is always easier than attacking. Then you see the referee, it’s always the same. Everywhere I have coached, it’s always the same with this referee. 

"I know it’s very difficult to beat such an opponent in these circumstances. I know that in advance – I said it in my press conference before the Yeovil Town game. We know in advance everything is against us."

United did improve in the second period and created two good chances that were wasted Radamel Falcao and substitute Robin van Persie. The replay could be worth up to $1.5 million to Cambridge, who will take a cut of the gate receipts at Old Trafford, and although Van Gaal did praise the League Two side’s organisation, he was left angry with the errors his players made.  

"We make the same errors as we did against Yeovil and Queens Park Rangers and we played in the same style as the opponent," he said.   "That was our error. In the second half we played much better. We played along the floor and that’s a different style. It was a pity we had to wait until halftime. I was pleased but we don’t score and I have to give credit to this club (Cambridge) because they played very well and were very well organised. They played with their heart and they fought until the end. But we’re still in the cup and that’s the most important thing."

Cambridge boss Richard Money could not hide his delight at his side’s fantastic result. 

He said: "It is difficult to put into words just how proud we are. When you get back in the dressing room and recover, you just suddenly start to think about what it means to so many people. This club has been in the doldrums for 10 years, out of the Football League, and suddenly here we are taking everybody back to Old Trafford. It’s incredible."