West Ham v Manchester United: Van Gaal keen to deny Upton Park a winning farewell
Louis van Gaal says Manchester United must not allow sentiment to get in the way of their quest for Champions League football when they face West Ham at Upton Park.
United will bring the curtain down on the Boleyn Ground’s Premier League legacy on Tuesday, with the Hammers moving into their new home at the Olympic Stadium for the 2016-17 campaign.
The clash is United’s game in hand on their top-four rivals and three points in the capital could prove crucial in Van Gaal’s mission to take them back into Europe’s elite club competition.
History favours the 13-time Premier League champions, with United unbeaten in the league at Upton Park since 2007 – a run of six matches.
“We have a lot of respect to West Ham United. We are not trying to spoil their party,” said the Dutch coach. “But we do need the three points, that is different.
“It will be a big night and an emotional night for them. It [playing the final game at Upton Park] is a negative for us. We have to play against an opponent who says goodbye to the stadium so they don’t want to lose.
“They have already lost to Manchester United in the last FA Cup match [at Upton Park] so that is not very good for us and West Ham United are a very good team.”
The game is not just about a farewell party for West Ham either, with manager Slaven Bilic also hoping for a European place despite Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Swansea City.
The top four is still a possibility for the Hammers, but the Europa League looks to be a more realistic goal and Bilic has demanded an immediate response to ensure they have continental football to look forward to in their new home.
“We have to bounce back. We have two games left and want to finish high,” he said.
“Our aim is to show a good spirit and character that has been with us all season and we hope to show that against Manchester United.
“It will be an emotional night, but the fact that it is the final ever game makes it even more special and we have to stay cool and stay focused because we want to win the game.
“We have been thinking about a European place since we knew it was reachable and we can still do it. When we give our best we still have a lot to offer.”
West Ham have no new injury worries, but the visitors are likely to be without Matteo Darmian (ankle) after he left Saturday’s 1-0 win over Norwich City on a stretcher, while Anthony Martial (hamstring) is also a doubt after pulling up prior to the Carrow Road clash.