Carroll threat looms for United

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The West Ham striker produced a devasting display against Arsenal on Saturday, dominating centre backs Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel as he completed an eight-minute hat-trick in the 3-3 draw.

His return to form has brought calls for the 27-year-old to be included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2016, and after seeing his side capitulate 3-0 against Tottenham on Sunday, Van Gaal has urged his defenders to retain their focus when they face the giant Geordie at Upton Park.

‘I have seen the Andy Carroll show,’ said the Dutchman. ‘I think our problem against Tottenham was also the miscommunication of our central defenders. I hope that we improve our communication because it is a very important game for us.

‘He has special qualities. We have seen that in the match that he played on Saturday. It was also against Arsenal and they have great central defenders. So we have to cope with Carroll but also with other players — they have a certain player named Dimitri Payet, he can also play.’

Van Gaal’s side have fallen four points behind Manchester City in the race for Champions League football and the FA Cup remains United’s only hope of silverware this season. However, the Dutchman insists his players won’t crack as they look to avoid a third consecutive trophyless season.

‘I think the players of Manchester United have to cope with that pressure, they have done it always,’ said Van Gaal.

Meanwhile, Michael Carrick remains in limbo with United still to indicate whether he will be offered a new contract.

The midfielder’s current deal runs out at the end of this campaign, and with just over a month before United’s final game, the 34-year-old could yet depart.

United have been proactive with older players in the past, tying stars down to one-year extensions. But Carrick, who has received interest from abroad, has heard nothing, though he wants to stay in England.

Van Gaal is still likely to leave United at the end of the season, though he spoke about transfer targets last week.

United are interested in Roma centre back Kostas Manolas, who is valued at £30million. The 24-year-old Greece international’s representatives have had contact with Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton.

The club posted scouts to watch Benfica’s Renato Sanches once again at the weekend. The 18-year-old midfielder gave a man-of- the-match performance in Benfica’s 2-1 win at Academica where he was also watched by Arsenal scouts.

United have been working to agree a fee for Sanches since January. Benfica want £47m. – Daily Mail

Original source: Carroll threat looms for United

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