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Manchester United need 'horny' performances - Louis van Gaal

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admitted that criticism of him could be affecting his players -- then bizarrely urged them to respond by performing in a "horny" manner.

The Dutchman's future is in serious doubt as United prepare to host FC Midtjylland on Thursday night in the second leg of their Europa League round-of-32 contest, with the English club trailing 2-1.

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FC MidtjyllandFC Midtjylland
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Leg 2Aggregate: 6 - 3
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He did not show the strain though, raising his voice to say the word "horny" when he described how he tells his players to feel. The former Netherlands manager thinks there needs to be a passionate response from United on Thursday because he expects Midtjylland to raise their game at Old Trafford as it will be the "match of their lives," according to Van Gaal.

"A lot of times I use the word 'horny' to my players," Van Gaal said.

"They showed fight against Shrewsbury but every game is different and every game players and managers want to fight for the victory. But we are human beings also. You are not always in the same shape and form.

"I think maybe criticism of me can be an influence because there is a lot, but they have to use their tools to ignore it because that's very important. Not only the criticism of their manager, but also of themselves."

Louis van Gaal has asked his players to show more passion on the pitch.

Van Gaal looked unimpressed when he was asked if life should have been easier for United during this tie. He gave a reminder of the Danish club's success earlier this season in knocking Southampton out of Europe.

"I don't know what you mean," Van Gaal said. "When I see the data of Midtjylland, they have always won against English opponents. Everyone thinks it's nothing but you have to analyse every opponent on their own qualities and I think they have a lot of qualities.

"I was not a great player, as you know, but when I played for full stadiums I was always at my best. It is not a good signal for us. Most of the [Midtjylland] players shall be excited and it will be the match of their lives for most of them."

Hearing of Van Gaal's strange proclamation, Midtjylland boss Jess Thorup said he found the United coach's words amusing.

"I just heard that in the car outside of the stadium," Thorup said, smiling. "We were laughing a bit about the word horny.

"I don't [know] what to say and, if [you] translate the word horny, I don't know what he means related to the game."

Discussing Memphis Depay, who has admitted to his difficulties this season, the United manager said: "He has to adapt [with his football] and also to the culture of England and the Premier League, as a person.

"Mostly, every player has to do that. There are not so many players who can do what Anthony Martial is doing."

Midfielder Juan Mata, meanwhile, denied that participating in the Europa League will test United physically, having gone all the way with Chelsea.

Mata said: "The season when I won it, I played more than ever and felt good with it."

Press Association contributed to this report.

Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him @ARejSport

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