21 Mar 2015

Man Utd prepare for massive Liverpool clash

11:34 am on 21 March 2015

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been refereeing training games to help his players keep their emotions in check for the Premier League top-four showdown with Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

Louis van Gaal, Manager of Manchester United and assistant, Ryan Giggs. 2014.

Louis van Gaal, Manager of Manchester United and assistant, Ryan Giggs. 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Dutchman has a reputation as a disciplinarian who keeps his players on a tight leash but has seen emotions boil over in big games this season with Chris Smalling sent off against Manchester City and Angel Di Maria seeing red against Arsenal in the FA Cup.

With Anfield proving a traditionally hostile environment for visiting United sides and only two points separating the teams in the battle for a top-four finish, Van Gaal was keen to lay down the law.

"I have been the referee on the training pitch and I have whistled when they have to control their aggression, for example, to prepare already for the atmosphere," the Dutchman says. "Control of emotion is also a talent."

The United boss has been heavily criticised for his side's frequently negative playing style this season, but there were few complaints after last weekend's emphatic 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

For all the talk of long-ball tactics and a move away from United's traditions of attacking football, Van Gaal seems to have stumbled across a formula that could yet appease the purists.

Yet it will count for nothing, Van Gaal says, unless they can build on that performance at Anfield.

"I think we played very good in the first half - it was also good to have an evolution that is very positive," he says.

"(But) it says nothing when you lose the next match. Liverpool is not a ground where Manchester United have won a lot. When we have won at Liverpool, that will have shown we have improved further."

Both teams come into the game in superb form with Liverpool having won five league games in a row and eight of their last nine while United have won three in succession and are undefeated in 17 of their last 19.

Meanwhile, United's midfielder Michael Carrick has signed a one-year contract extension.

The 33-year-old has been at Old Trafford since 2006, winning five Premier League titles and becoming a cornerstone of the United midfield with his cultured passing and disciplined defensive work.

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