Louis van Gaal admitted on Thursday that Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini must show more restraint following his three-game ban for elbowing Leicester defender Robert Huth.
But United manager Van Gaal insists he has sympathy for the Belgian international because of the provocation from Huth, who was also given a three-match suspension for pulling Fellaini’s hair in the incident that sparked the altercation in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
“We don’t have an appeal because I said already that the reaction of Fellaini is like a human being,” said Van Gaal, who will lose Fellaini for three Premier League games but have him available for the FA Cup Final against Crystal Palace later this month.
“When the FA gives Huth a suspension of three matches, then they admit that it was a penalty and I said that also after the match.
“So for us it’s very disappointing but the referee was not seeing the fact and I still believe Fellaini makes a reaction like a human being but he has to control himself better, that is true.
“But when you grab somebody by the hair, always this situation shall exist.”
Fellaini will end the season as he started it — serving a suspension – after he was punished for stamping on Hull’s Paul McShane in the final game of the last campaign.
His absence won’t help United’s bid to qualify for the Champions League via a top four finish.
Despite a solid recent run, the often-criticised Van Gaal has been left to count the cost of a mid-season slump and some indifferent results against lower opponents.
In midweek, at United’s player of the year awards event, Van Gaal claimed expectations at Old Trafford are too high and while he was not in the mood to examine the issue any further, the United manager still clings to his mantra that a debilitating pre-Christmas injury list has scuppered his team’s season.
“When you see what we had done against the top five, you can see what we have done against the bottom five, and that is not a good average,” he said.
“It’s a big damage but the month of December has his own reasons for that. You have to cope with that, that is what we have to do.
“When the injuries are so much in the same position, you cannot solve every problem anymore.
“We had these injuries. I always talk about facts, not about hypothetical circumstance and activities.
“I can only say that in the end of November we had first position, after that we had a big decline. These are the facts.
“Also the injuries are a fact. But you can never tell that if we didn’t have so many injuries that we would be first, because I have great respect for the champions Leicester City.
“They deserve it. When I say we had injuries it’s not respectful to the champions, and they deserve it.”