FA Cup preview: Van Gaal ruffled by Giggs rumours

As Man Utd prepare to host Arsenal, its manager reacts angrily to rumours of rift with assistant

Louis van Gaal
(Image credit: Alex Livesey/Getty )

The Premier League puts up its feet this weekend as the FA Cup takes centre stage with the quarter-finals taking place on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Manchester United host Arsenal on Monday evening at Old Trafford but when Louis van Gaal appeared at Thursday afternoon's press conference, the talk was less about the Gunners and more about Ryan Giggs.

Rumours have emerged that all is not well between the United manager and his assistant, but when the question was put to van Gaal, he replied: "I am very irritated at this question because everyone can see we have a very good relationship. We work very hard together, not only with Ryan but with all the staff and the players…I am very irritated. I take my measures against the media. I am not pleased."

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Van Gaal brightened up when asked about United's opponents on Monday, despite the fact Arsenal remain the favourites to retain the cup they won last year.

"It is a very important game, not only for the FA Cup but also for the rat race," said the Dutchman, referring to the tussle to finish in the top four of the Premier League. "We have the support of our fans but Arsenal shall also bring a lot of fans. I hope we can give a fantastic match for them."

United lie fourth in the league with Arsenal in third, and van Gaal was quick to praise Arsene Wenger for the way he consistently steers the Gunners into the Champions League.

"In my opinion [what he has done] is amazing," he declared. "It can only be in England, I believe, where managers are so long committed with one club. It shows how much he can mean for a club as a manager. I like that – like Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger – I think it's fantastic that you can do that."

Saturday's FA Cup encounters see West Bromwich Albion travel to Aston Villa for a Midlands derby, but for lovers of romance all eyes will be watching Bradford City as they host Reading. The Yorkshire side will reach the semi-finals for the first time in 104 years if they beat Reading, and manager Phil Parkinson says reaching a Wembley FA Cup semi-final would mean more than their appearance in the final of the 2013 League Cup

"The FA Cup is obviously a level above the League Cup. This is what being in football is all about," said Parkinson, whose team have beaten Chelsea and Sunderland en route to the quarter-final. "If we can do it this time, it will be the first time since 1911 and this group of players will be remembered," he added Parkinson.

The Bradford manager made nearly 400 appearances for Reading in the 1990s and insists there will be no complacency on Saturday despite many people seeing the visitors as the underdogs.

"We are under no illusions at all that to get through this game we are going to have to play probably better than we have at any point this season so far," he said.

The fourth quarter-final pairs Blackburn against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, a repeat of the 2000 fifth round tie that went the way of the Championship side thanks to Nathan Blake's late strike.

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Bill Mann is a football correspondent for The Week.co.uk, scouring the world's football press daily for the popular Transfer Talk column.