Man United target FA Cup as Van Gaal tips his side for glory
Dutch manager is not 'a casino man' but believes the smart money is on United to win the cup
Manchester United 3 Cambridge United 0. Louis van Gaal is not a gambling man by all accounts, but he had a tip for the punters after Manchester United beat minnows Cambridge to secure their berth in the FA Cup fifth round.
Goals from Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo and James Wilson put an end to Cambridge's hopes of an FA Cup fairytale at Old Trafford, but not before United survived a major scare, when Tom Elliott raced through on goal in the first minute only to hit the post.
"We have a real chance now," said Van Gaal, whose next cup assignment is against Preston of League One. "We are the highest qualified team in the FA Cup, our status is the highest club, so people are maybe betting on us. I am not allowed to but I give you a tip."
He admitted that he was "not a casino man" but did boast that he had always won silverware in his first season in charge of any of his clubs and made it clear that the cup was now his main priority. "The chance I will win the title is bigger in the FA Cup than the Premier League," he said.
After the carnage of the last round, which saw big guns including Chelsea, Man City, Southampton and Spurs knocked out "even Van Gaal knows a good bet when he sees one", says The Times, which agrees "the smart money may well be on United".
United have not played Preston since 1972, notes The Guardian, but they now face the "short trip up the M6 to Deepdale in a competition they must surely feel can be claimed, 11 years after their last triumph".
Not everyone is so bullish, and the Daily Mail says that United looked "dysfunctional" in the opening exchanges and in the minutes before the goal arrived United's "body language began to look a little suspect".
But Mata's strike after 25 minutes had been a long time coming. "After almost 115 minutes of play against a team from the bottom rung, a goal was greeted with some relief by United," says the paper.