Norwich City manager Alex Neil says his side knew that surviving the first 30 minutes would be pivotal to beating Manchester United on Saturday.
Cameron Jerome and Alex Tettey scored from two quick counter-attacks either side of half-time as Norwich triumphed 2-1 at Old Trafford, condemning Van Gaal’s side to their third successive defeat.
Neil says he knew what to expect from the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach and was delighted with such a result against one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, having seen his side lose narrowly away to Chelsea and Manchester City this season.
“The one thing about Louis van Gaal teams is they start quick, they press high up the pitch and they get in your face and we needed to make sure we weren’t going to overplay or risk conceding an early goal,” he said. “We had to be in the game after 30 minutes and then we can hurt them on the counter. Our players’ work ethic was incredible.
“Whatever game you go into you have a chance. I always believe that. Our performances so far this season against the bigger teams proves that. We drew 1-1 with Liverpool, we went to Chelsea and lost 1-0 off an error we made and the same at Manchester City. We have always been competitive.
“We felt if we limited the mistakes, because we have done that, we felt we would give ourselves a chance. It was about keeping ourselves in the game because we have enough quality to create chances. If you look at their starting line-up at [AFC] Bournemouth last week and this one it was very different. They had all their big-hitters back in the side.”
Neil hopes to see his players take some confidence into the hectic festive schedule after he admitted that some recent results had left his players frustrated.
“It is great for the club. I am delighted for the likes of [owner] Delia Smith and [chief executive] David McNally who put their faith and trust in me. For them, that will mean a lot and also the same for the fans so I am delighted about that.
“For me, it is just about trying to get as many points as I can for my team to get us safe. We can take plenty from that. We had been playing well, not getting our just rewards and that can be de-motivating.”