Football: Van Gaal relishes United's FA Cup odyssey

Football: Van Gaal relishes United's FA Cup odyssey
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal reacts before their English FA Cup 4th round football match against Cambridge United at The Abbey Stadium in Cambridge, eastern England January 23, 2015.

PRESTON, United Kingdom - Louis van Gaal has loved every minute of Manchester United's FA Cup run this season even though he feels the "world has been against them".

Van Gaal's side travel to third tier Preston North End in the fifth round on Monday to make it a hat-trick of away ties against teams outside of English football's top two divisions.

United defeated third tier Yeovil Town in the third round before they required a replay at Old Trafford to beat fourth tier Cambridge United in the fourth round.

And even though he knows the wider football world will be once again be willing the lower league side to cause a huge upset, United manager van Gaal is still relishing the chance to be part of a classic underdogs against giants Cup story at Deepdale.

"It is a fantastic competition," Van Gaal said. "I have already described that we have to play for the third time a lower team, and you know the world is against you, the environment is against you because everyone is with the underdog.

"It is more difficult to accept but it's like that. However, the chance that you can survive is higher because you are playing against lower qualities.

"But you have to beat the team with better motivation in other circumstances and in the atmosphere where everyone is against you." This will be their first meeting with Preston since an FA Cup fourth round tie against their fellow Lancashire club at Deepdale in February 1972.

On that occasion a United team featuring George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law won 2-0 thanks to a brace from the less heralded Alan Gowling.

Rooney conundrum

Van Gaal, meanwhile, continues to defend his use of England striker in Wayne Rooney in midfield, despite acknowledging the United captain is possibly the best forward he has at Old Trafford.

"He is maybe the best striker," Van Gaal added. "But I have explained a lot of times that it is not because anyone is not a good player in my selection "You have to compare and I have to like what is the biggest contribution where a player can play, and other players also." Preston manager Simon Grayson has urged his players to embrace the challenge of facing United's stellar names.

North End, who are fourth in League One, have won their last three matches in all competitions and Grayson wants his team to do themselves justice against the 11-times FA Cup winners.

"Our players, no disrespect to them, but they might never get another opportunity to play against the likes of Radamel Falcao, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie," Grayson said.

"It's got to inspire them. You've got to go into a game like this and enjoy it.

"They've just got to grasp the opportunity and do what it takes to try to get a performance out them. The one thing I'll say to them before they go out is 'have no regrets'.

"They need to wake up in the morning after knowing they've done themselves justice." Grayson is going in search of his second upset against United with a third tier club, having masterminded Leeds' 1-0 victory at Old Trafford in January 2010.

"The magic of the FA Cup is there for everyone to see," Grayson added.

"If we play to our maximum like that day, and they have an off day, then it can happen.

"We know the task we've got in hand but we've got nothing to lose and they've got everything to lose.

"There's always one shock and always a hero - hopefully it's going to be a Preston North End player."

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