Louis van Gaal has told Manchester United's fans to voice their frustration over the team playing style at him rather than the players. Ahead of the Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion, the Dutch boss insisted he plans to continue changing Wayne Rooney's position on the pitch depending on the rival.
Van Gaal has been under scrutiny in recent weeks after his side got three consecutive goalless draws prior to their 1-0 Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow on 3 November – with ex-United player Paul Scholes saying the manager had created a team "brilliantly coached to defend" but unenjoyable to play for.
The unimpressive victory over the Russian side may have helped United get a step closer to the Champions League last 16 but they failed to calm their critics. After a first-half without any goals, the Old Trafford faithful booed the 66th-minute substitution of Anthony Martial, with Marouane Fellaini taking his place, while chanting: "We're Man Utd, we want to attack."
The boos appeared to go in the direction of the manager rather than the players but speaking ahead of the home game against West Brom on 7 November, Van Gaal said, as quoted by Sky Sports: "The supporters have to support the players otherwise they make it very difficult for the players to play at Old Trafford.
"Criticism from the fans is never unfair because it is the feeling of the fans and you cannot criticise the feelings of the fans. I think we have to play for the fans. But as I have already said the fans also have to understand the game and the resistance of our opponents. They also have to analyse that.
"I can only advise the fans to criticise the manager and not the players. It's very difficult to play for Manchester United with a lot of pressure and if you can taste that in Old Trafford because of all the yelling, then it's not good for my players.
"Then it's better to whistle the manager, I can cope with it because I have had a lot of experience in my life as a manager."
Van Gaal does not plan to change his tactics over Rooney despite some urging him to keep the captain in the number nine role – or even to drop him and use instead Martial as the sole striker. "It is dependable of the opponent, the quality of the opponent and dependent of the qualities of his [Rooney's] fellow players in the line-up," the manager said.
"I have to look for a balance, and that is also why I change players. If I want to bring something else so we can hurt the opponent, it's only because of that, that I try that. This season he is playing more as a second striker than a third midfield player."