Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has poured scorn on critics who he says have made a “devil” of him after one defeat in his new job.
United’s 2-1 home defeat by Swansea City was the shock result on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season. They face a tricky game at Sunderland on Sunday and Van Gaal is appealing for patience.
“Two weeks ago I was the king of Manchester and now I am the devil of Manchester,” he told a news conference on Friday.
“It’s the football world and it is especially the media in this football world.
“I think the fans of Manchester are intelligent. I’ve already said that it shall be difficult in the first three months, for the players and also for the fans.”
Former United hero Paul Scholes said in a newspaper column this week that he was “scared” for United’s immediate future, to which Van Gaal responded: “I can imagine the fans are scared. They have to believe. Paul Scholes has to believe.
“The club have hired me because of my philosophy, not because I am nice. Although I am. I am not hired to be fired. I am hired to build up a team. That process needs time.”
Supporters had been expecting a better start, however, after a hugely disappointing season in which United finished seventh in the table.
It was their lowest final position since 1990 and the Swansea defeat was their first loss in an opening home game for 42 years.
They have won their last three league games at Sunderland but were beaten 2-1 in last season’s League Cup semi-finals.
Striker Robin van Persie, who was captain of the Netherlands World Cup team under Van Gaal, is fit to return after missing the Swansea game but new signing Ander Herrera is out injured, leaving United short of midfield players.