Friday 23 October 2015 13:06, UK
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says his training methods last season were responsible for their injury crisis.
United's players returned to Manchester on Thursday afternoon following their Champions League 1-1 draw against CSKA Moscow and now turn their attentions to Premier League duty ahead of Super Sunday's battle with Manchester City.
In the build-up to the clash between the league's first and third-placed teams, Van Gaal described the schedule in English football as "evil" because of the lack of a winter break, stating that clubs and the national team suffered with players being "exhausted at the end of the season".
In his first campaign at Old Trafford, Van Gaal's coaching methods came under fire with 10 of his first-team players on the sidelines with injury at one time.
"That was my fault. I was training them harder but they were not used to training like that," said Van Gaal .
"Because I am convinced you have to train now they are used to that step. I also let go players because of that and I bought new players. I think they are more used to my training sessions. You can see that with the new players. You can see which players are always injured.
"In my career I never had injuries like that [last year]. I have always preferred small squads. I think I have the smallest squad in the Premier League. You always have to train but with structure and not too hard."
One man Van Gaal is hoping stays healthy is Chris Smalling who has been tipped to replace Wayne Rooney as the club's captain by his manager.
It is an amazing turnaround by the England defender who was branded "stupid" for his red card in last season's 1-0 defeat by City at the Etihad.
"Wayne Rooney is the captain, so you don't have worry, and then Michael Carrick," said Van Gaal.
"But when they are gone then, Chris Smalling can do that. So I push him in that situation. Every player makes the steps by himself. I put him in the situation, I help him in the situation and I advise, and the player can take it on board or not.
"There's a lot of advice and it's about how we defend as a team. He's a part of that and I wanted him to speak. He also has the talent to speak. That makes him easy to coach.
"Because of that, I have made him a leader of the team. He's made steps, and also in a tactical way."
Watch the Manchester derby live on Sky Sports as part of Super Sunday - coverage from Old Trafford starts at 2pm, or watch without a contract on NOW TV.