Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has called for passion from his players against FC Midtylland in the Europa League, telling them to be “horny”. United are 2-1 down going into Thursday’s last-32 second leg, with Van Gaal saying the Danish visitors will have “the match of their lives”. Asked what he wanted from his side, the Dutchman replied: “Desire, hunger. A lot of times I use the word horny.” Europa League success is their best hope of Champions League qualification.

After losing 2-1 to Sunderland last time out in the Premier League, the Red Devils are six points shy of the top four, with Van Gaal saying it will be “very difficult” for them to qualify for the Champions League through the league. The United manager, 64, continues to be dogged by speculation that he is to be replaced by ex-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and has also faced criticism from fans. Mourinho has said he does not know about becoming the next Manchester United manager “There is a lot of criticism,” Van Gaal said. “The players have to use their tools to ignore it, the criticism of the manager and themselves. You have to prepare yourself properly. “It should not be an influencing subject.” Danish champions Midtjylland were only formed in 1999 and are in their 10th season of European football. “Coming to Old Trafford is the match of their lives. Top teams have to cope with that,” Van Gaal said. “I was not a great player but I was always at my best in a full stadium.”