Mata picked up two ridiculous yellow cards which were entirely avoidable and it gave Manchester United an uphill battle from the 30th minute.
We never looked like winning but instead of saying Mata was simply at fault for his red card, van Gaal inexplicably tried to bring character assessments into it when discussing the red card.
“What can I say when you send off a player like Mata,” he told BBC Sport.
“I have asked him if it’s his first red card and he said yes. When you do that you give the first and second yellow within five minutes.
“You can do it according the rules but I think the referee has to know the person doing it. I don’t think Mata has ever had bad tackles and something like that.
“You know the first one is a stupid yellow card and then you have to be aware the referee can give a second yellow card. A referee has to decide within one second but when you know the player, Mata never hurts a player.
“When you have to play 75 minutes with 10 players. I don’t think we were so uncomfortable. We had several chances to score so it’s always more difficult when you play 10 against 11. It’s always very difficult for a team to play against 11.
“The loss is a big blow because it was not necessary. When you see the first half it was not necessary I think.”
That has to go down as one of van Gaal’s most baffling statements as United manager. Mata deserved to be sent off, no United fan is questioning that at all, and it really doesn’t matter what he did previously, what does matter is the fact both yellow cards were justified.
Another shocking performance from United has shown fans once again that our cycle of taking one step forward and two steps back is simply going to continue repeating itself.