Van Gaal’s bizarre words of motivation

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes that passion will be the key to his side overcoming a first-leg deficit in their Europa League last-32 tie against FC Midtjylland on Thursday, and has said he often urges his players to perform in a “horny” manner.

The Red Devils are under huge pressure heading into the fixture, with winning the Europa League beginning to appear to be their best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Speaking ahead of Thursday night’s game, Van Gaal said: “There’s a lot of criticism, so it can influence players but they have to ignore it.

“I think Midtjylland has a very good organisation, very detailed … they play with diagonal pressing. I do that also with my team. Not many teams are doing that. And when I see the data of Midtjylland they have always won against English opponents.

“We have to keep the ball better and we have to move the ball quicker – that’s always what we have to do. Desire … it is a great word. I often use the word ‘horny’ with my players.”

The comment drew laughter from the assembled journalists, and Juan Mata, who was attending the press conference with Van Gaal, was asked how the players respond to such a comment.

“Like you, we react like you, we laugh,” said the Spaniard.

Time will tell whether Van Gaal’s slightly strange motivational techniques pay off.