Wolfsburg - Louis van Gaal says he is
unable to defend himself following Manchester United's Champions League exit,
but he insists the Red Devils are improving under his tenure.
United crashed out with a 3-2 defeat at
Wolfsburg, who made club history by reaching the knock-out stages as Group B
PSV Eindhoven's 2-1 win at home to CSKA
Moscow allowed the Dutch to claim second place at Manchester's expense as
third-placed United now drop into the Europa League.
The Red Devils suffered a repeat of their
2011/12 European campaign when defeat in their final group game at FC Basel
also denied them a place in the last 16.
The defeat puts Van Gaal under pressure
with his side now winless in their last four games, but he says pundits who
claim United are not improving under his stewardship are incorrect.
"I can't defend myself, because we are
out of the Champions League and every word I say will be wrong," he said
with United fourth in the Premier League table.
"But when you see the facts, we
qualified for Europe last season and we are in a good position in the league.
"The facts say we are better than last
"I can only give facts, but of course
that we are out of the Champions League."
Having scored just one goal in drawing
their last three games, United needed just ten minutes to take the lead at
Wolfsburg's Volkswagen Arena.
Anthony Martial's early strike for the Red
Devils was cancelled out by first-half goals from Brazil's Naldo and Portugal's
United drew level when Wolfsburg's French
midfielder Josuha Guilavogui scored a late own goal seconds before Naldo
claimed his second by heading the winner.
"It was a crazy match," said Van
"We twice gave away goals within two
minutes after we had scored, that was difficult to understand.
"I am happy that we scored, but I am
not happy why we defended so poorly and it's something I have to analyse.
"I've said in advance this was a tight
group and you see it in the results we had.
"Our competitors showed it's not
always United who finish first or second."
Van Gaal was left fuming after Jesse
Lingard curled home a cross from outside the area, but the linesman spotted
Mata was offside and chalked off the goal, which would have made it 2-2 at the
"We weren't very lucky today with the
decisions from the referee," said Van Gaal.
"When the group is tight, those type
of decisions can decide whether you go through or not.
"It's now a matter of time before we
can show our qualities in the Champions League again, but we have to wait until
next year now.
"We have enough to fight for in the
The United boss also repeated his criticism
of German captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, who Van Gaal says has not repeated
his impressive Bayern Munich form in the United shirt.
Schweinsteiger was taken off with twenty
minutes to go in Wolfsburg.
"I took him off and I don't take
players off for nothing, but we are all human beings and so is Bastian Schweinsteiger,"
said Van Gaal.
"He wants to play at the highest
level, especially in Germany, to show his qualities, but I can't say he was the
Bastian Schweinsteiger I saw during my Bayern Munich days."
The result was an ideal tonic for Wolfsburg
after suffering their first home defeat in 29 home games last Saturday when
they lost 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund in the German league.
Victory over United sees Wolfsburg qualify
for the Champions League's knock-out phase for first time in the club's history
following their 2009/10 campaign when they bowed out in the group stages.
"It's a special moment for us,"
said goal-scorer Naldo, who picked up a yellow card and is suspended for the
first-leg of the last 16 clash.
"The team put in a great performance
against a super team like Manchester.
"It's a pity that I'm suspended for
the next game, but tonight we'll celebrate."