The Reds scraped to a 1-0 win at Old Trafford thanks to a Wayne Rooney header deep into the second half to finally end their long-lasting scoring drought. Man United came into the Champions League game on the back of three goalless draws and knew a win was crucial in their bid to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.
Lingard had a huge part to play in the winner as he brilliantly played a volleyed cross across goal straight onto his skipper’s head for Rooney to open the scoring, but in the first half United weren’t able to break down a stubborn CSKA Moscow side.
When asked what van Gaal said at half-time, Lingard said: “Just to keep going, to keep performing the same as the first half, be patient, ignore the fans and keep playing your own game, so hopefully the goals will come.”
It is certainly interesting to hear that van Gaal urged the players not to pay attention to the fans. There was a capacity crowd in at Old Trafford who made their feelings known early on, with chants of “Attack, attack, attack!” The frustration in the stadium grew as the game went on and the Reds failed to score and the game provided the first sign of United supporters acting out towards van Gaal.
Anthony Martial being replaced by Marouane Fellaini was welcomed by a chorus of boos as the crowd made it clear that they didn’t agree with the substitution. The noise in the stadium grew throughout the second half and there was a collective sigh of relief when Rooney found the back of the net. Van Gaal’s advice to ‘ignore the fans’ could anger some but the manager would have only been hoping the Reds could focus on the task at hand.
A frustrated crowd can sometimes affect the players and make them do things they normally wouldn’t on the pitch, which was probably the reason for van Gaal’s comments. The players needed to show a thick skin and not let the supporters frustration get to them and, to their credit, they were able to do so and get to the top of their group.