Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal insisted on Friday that he can handle the mounting criticism of his tactics and team selections.

Van Gaal has come under fire for using captain Wayne Rooney in midfield instead of in his preferred position as a central striker and the Dutchman has also been slammed for using a long-ball gameplan at a club famed for its commitment to entertainingfootball.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes this week said watching United this season has been a “miserable” experience because of their style of play.

But, speaking at his press conference ahead of United’s FA Cup fifth round trip to Preston on Monday, Van Gaal was adamant the criticism hasn’t affected him.

“I don’t worry about it, it’s not so interesting,” Van Gaal said.

“I think because he (Paul Scholes) is one of the fans, I hope, and he can criticise. Fans can criticise, and that’s not a problem.

“That’s what I have to say about that. I am used to it and I think all the players are used to it because they are not first-time professional football players.

“Maybe some players are affected, but normally most of the time it does not affect me or the players.”

However, Van Gaal did conceded he still doesn’t know his best starting line-up eight months into his Old Trafford tenure.

The former Netherlands coach has flipped between three centre-backs and a flat back four and also tinkered with the setup of his midfield and attack.

“I have played now already five or six systems and I am looking still for the balance,” Van Gaal said.

“But this current system is more attractive than normally and I can play with more attacking players.

“That’s the reason I am doing that. In spite of the fact that we are looking for the balance, our results are not bad and our defensive organisation is not bad, we also score a lot of goals.”

– Injury worries –

Defender Phil Jones and midfielder Daley Blind are both doubtful for the trip to Deepdale, along with striker Robin van Persie.

Jones left the pitch during the 3-1 win against Burnley in midweek with an ankle injury, while Blind suffered a cut above his eye in that match.

Van Gaal refused to reveal the nature of Dutch striker Van Persie’s knock.

“I think Phil Jones shall be difficult to play on Monday. Daley Blind, I don’t know, we have to wait and see how he recovers,” Van Gaal said.

“Robin van Persie also has something, so now I have given the players a day off. Only the injured players have visited our centre, but the doctor has not called me yet so I cannot say anything.”

United were well below their best when they squeezed past third tier Yeovil and fourth tier Cambridge in the previous two rounds. 

But Van Gaal remains confident his players can handle what should be a raucous atmosphere at Preston, although he knows most non-United fans will want the third tier side to cause a famous FA Cup upset.

“We have to play for the third time a lower team. You know the world is against you, the environment is against you because everyone is with the underdog,” Van Gaal added.

“It is more difficult to accept but it’s like that. But the chance that you can survive is higher because you are playing against lower qualities.

“You have to beat the team with better motivation in other circumstances and in the atmosphere where everyone is against you.” – Agence France-Presse

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