Louis van Gaal hailed Manchester United’s “unbelievable” spirit after they beat Everton 2-1 to reach the FA Cup final – before admitting his continued uncertainty about his chances of still being with the club next season.
Anthony Martial struck a dramatic stoppage-time winner at Wembley after Marouane Fellaini’s 34th-minute opener was cancelled out by a Chris Smalling own-goal 15 minutes from time.
United had dominated the first half, with Everton then mounting a comeback during which Toffees striker Romelu Lukaku had a 57th-minute penalty brilliantly saved by David de Gea.
The semi-final looked certain to head into extra time, but Martial then intervened to send the Red Devils into their first FA Cup final in nine years as they remained on course for their first trophy since 2013.
United are currently fifth in the Barclays Premier League and there has been plenty of talk this season about boss Van Gaal being replaced in the summer.
And having praised his team for their efforts on Saturday, the Dutchman – asked how important winning the FA Cup could be for the team’s development heading into next season – said: “I am not looking beyond this competition and FA Cup, because we live in the present.
“For the future, I will discuss that with my board and others.”
Van Gaal, whose current contract runs until the summer of 2017, was then asked if he would consider winning the FA Cup but failing to qualify for the Champions League a success.
The 64-year-old replied: “It is not for me to judge – it is for the board of Manchester United.”
Van Gaal had no doubt his side deserved to win the match.
And although he did not dispute the awarding of the penalty by referee Anthony Taylor following Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s challenge on Ross Barkley, he was critical of the official more generally as he gave his assessment of the contest.
“I think in the first half we were the better team,” Van Gaal said.
“We scored and created more chances, although we could have finished more.
“In the second half I think the referee changed the match.
“I have to say I think it was a penalty – I don’t argue. But I argue about over 50 duels that were not in our favour – when you do that over 10 or 15 minutes in a row, you have a big influence in the game.
“After that we scored the own-goal and it was 1-1, and then you saw we were showing our spirit. It was unbelievable.
“We were out of the game, but then back in it, and then Anthony scores a fantastic goal.
“We are lucky we scored in the last minute but we deserved to win.”