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Louis van Gaal: St James’s Park has proved a ‘difficult ground’ for me and my teams

MEMORY ... Louis van Gaal.
MEMORY ... Louis van Gaal.

LOUIS van Gaal says he feared taking his Manchester United side to St James’s Park – as he has a long memory.

Van Gaal was in charge of the Barcelona team famously beaten 3-2 in the Champions League by Newcastle United at the stadium in 1997 thanks to a Faustino Asprill hat-trick.

The 63-year-old returned a decade later with AZ Alkmaar, who were beaten 4-2 in the first leg of a UEFA Cup tie.

And under-pressure van Gaal was wary of what he calls a “difficult ground” ahead of Wednesday night’s meeting, eventually decided by an 89th-minute goal from Ashley Young.

“I was manager AZ Alkmaar and Barcelona, and I lost here as a coach two times,” said van Gaal.

“I knew it was a difficult ground. Ryan Giggs (van Gaal’s No2) said they will press us and a crowd supporting the team always, but we have made the crowd quiet.”

“I said in dressing room that I was very pleased with the performance, especially here at a difficult ground. We dominated the game.”