Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has poured scorn on critics who he said have made a "devil" of him after one defeat in his new job.
United's 2-1 home defeat by Swansea City was the shock result on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season. They face a tricky game at Sunderland tomorrow, and Van Gaal is appealing for patience.
“Two weeks ago I was the king of Manchester, and now I am the devil of Manchester,” he said on Friday. “It’s the football world and it is especially the media in this football world.
“I think the fans of Manchester are intelligent. I’ve already said that it shall be difficult in the first three months, for the players and also for the fans.”
Former United hero Paul Scholes said in a newspaper column this week that he was “scared” for United’s immediate future, to which Van Gaal responded: “I can imagine the fans are scared. They have to believe. Paul Scholes has to believe.
“The club have hired me because of my philosophy, not because I am nice. Although I am. I am not hired to be fired. I am hired to build up a team. That process needs time.”
Supporters had been expecting a better start after the disappointing 2013/14 season in which United finished seventh in the table.
It was their lowest final position since 1990 and the Swansea defeat was their first loss in an opening home game for 42 years.
They have won their past three league games at Sunderland but were beaten 2-1 in last season’s League Cup semi-finals.
New signing Marcos Rojo will not make his United debut against Sunderland as he has not received a work permit, which added to a growing list of absentees for Van Gaal.
The Argentina defender was presented yesterday as United’s third big acquisition of the summer, after Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, having joined for €20 million (Dh97.2m) from Sporting Lisbon on a five-year deal on Wednesday.
But Van Gaal will have to wait before giving Rojo his first start and said he is also without four injured midfielders tomorrow – Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Jesse Lingard. Left back Shaw is still out with a hamstring injury.
Van Gaal also refused to comment on Danny Welbeck’s future as speculation mounted that the England striker is set to leave Manchester United.
Reports have said Welbeck, who joined United in 2007, has been told he can leave Old Trafford.
Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE