Van Gaal explains decision to use Ashley Young as a lone striker

The Manchester United manager replaced Marcus Rashford with Young at half time as the damage was done within six second-half minutes at White Hart Lane.

Van Gaal explains decision to use Ashley Young as a lone striker
Ashley Young failed to threaten when playing upfront | Photo via Metro UK

Louis van Gaal has explained his decision to use Ashley Young as a lone striker after replacing Marcus Rashford after half-time in Manchester United's 3-0 defeat by Tottehham Hotspur.

Young came on at half time with the scores still level but saw Spurs take control with three goals in six second-half minutes to keep the pressure on league leaders Leicester City - who secured a 2-0 away win at Sunderland earlier in the day.

Despite having recognised striker Anthony Martial still on the pitch when Young entered the field, the French international remained on the wing with Young playing as the single striker. The 30-year-old did play in a similar position for the under-21s in last week's 1-1 draw with Chelsea, a match that van Gaal was in attendance. The United manager explained his decision to play Young up-front, he said: "I want more running in behind because in the first half we didn't have an attacking point."

You need runners to the death, Ashley Young has done that very well in the second team. Anthony Martial is more a player who wants the ball into his feet, so when I want runs in behind it’s better to give that to a player who is willing to do that," he added.

Martial was left on the wing while Young played up top | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Martial was left on the wing while Young played up top | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

It was Young's first appearance since United's 1-0 win over Liverpool back in January having suffered a groin injury, but with 90 minutes under his belt after under-21s action, van Gaal decided to play the former Aston Villa winger up front.

United still have a chance insists van Gaal

The defeat now see's his United side four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with just six games to go, but the United manager is still refusing to give up on possible Champions League football next season.

Van Gaal says "every team can lose to everybody so we are still in the race." The Reds can reduce the gap between their city rivals to just one point when they face Aston Villa at Old Trafford, a few hours before City travel to London to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. However, United have to turn their attention quickly to West Ham on Wednesday in the FA Cup quarter-final replay, with a semi-final tie with Everton on offer for the winners.