Blame lies with Man United players, not Louis van Gaal - Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini has spoken out in defence of Louis van Gaal, saying that the blame for the 2-0 Europa League defeat against Liverpool should be directed towards the players, not the Manchester United boss.
The Dutch tactician copped criticism from fans and media alike after the Red Devils turned in a tepid display in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Thursday.
The Belgium international, however, revealed that the fault lies with the United squad for not following Van Gaal's game plan.
"We didn't press well in the first half. I think the second half was much better and we had more possession of the ball," Fellaini told British newspapers.
"But in the first half we didn't show enough respect to the game plan of the manager. That's why we conceded a lot of chances.
"The plan before the game was to press from the start. We didn't do it well at all first half so we changed in the second half and it was better."
Two Man United legends, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand, were particularly critical of the loss, saying that the current squad lacked a decisive leader in crunch situations.
Fellaini, though, says that every single one of his teammates needs to shoulder some responsibility.
"The captains will talk when something needs to happen. I don't think it is about the leaders. We all have to do better at it," he said.
"All the players should be leaders. Against Liverpool it is always like this -- lots of duels and lots of challenges. In the first half we were not ready. The team was not ready.
"But we have to forget the Liverpool game for the moment and focus on the next one."
Van Gaal's men now turn their attention to Sunday's FA Cup quarterfinal against an in-form West Ham -- a match that Fellaini sees as being one of the most important of United's campaign.
"It was already a big game -- but now it is even bigger," he said. "It is a massive game for us and an important week in the future of the season."
"We will be focusing but we're playing at Old Trafford and we have to win.
"West Ham have bought great players and have a good manager in Slaven Bilic.
"They are playing well at the moment and are full of confidence so we have to be careful. But we are at home so we will be ready."