London - Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney deserved the sending-off that jeopardised his side's nervy 2-1 Premier League win over West Ham United on Saturday, his manager Louis van Gaal said.
The Dutchman stopped short of condemning the England captain for an inexplicably rash challenge, though, hailing his players' attitude to secure a "very important" victory at Old Trafford.
"It was a break-out of a set-play of ours and he makes a professional foul, I think you can call it like that," Van Gaal told a news conference of Rooney's red card.
"I don't think Wayne wanted to do it that way but he did it and you can give a red card.
"But OK, I am very happy that we hold the result until the end because it is very difficult to play against a team who have one more player but who also play a lot of high balls. I am very pleased with the attitude of my players."
After enduring their worst start to a Premier League season since the league's inception in 1992 with five points and one win from their opening five games, United's need to secure a win under new boss Van Gaal was desperate.
Rooney and Robin van Persie gave the home side an early cushion before Diafra Sakho pulled one back for West Ham before halftime.
If there were nerves at Old Trafford about the home side's ability to maintain a one-goal lead, with the capitulation from 3-1 up to 5-3 down at Leicester City last Sunday still fresh in the mind, they were made worse when United were reduced to 10 men.
There were gasps of horror when Kevin Nolan put the ball in the net for the visitors with just a minute to go but he was adjudged offside, much to the relief of Van Gaal and his team.
The ghosts of Leicester were not the only thing the United manager had to contend with as a glut of defensive injuries and suspensions meant he had to shuffle his pack.
He handed debuts to two teenage defenders, left-back Luke Shaw who joined for 27 million pounds ($43.9 million) from Southampton, and 19-year-old Patrick McNair.
"Luke Shaw was always injured (at the start of the season) but now I could play with him for 90 minutes," the 63-year-old Van Gaal said.
"He had a little cramp and it was amazing he lasted 90 minutes. Also, Paddy McNair played a very good match and I'm very pleased for him that we won."
The 20-times English champions moved up to seventh in the league table and now look ahead to the visit of Everton on October 5.