MANCHESTER: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is convinced the Red Devils are on track to claim a Champions League place from the wreckage of one of Old Trafford’s most difficult seasons in recent memory.
Van Gaal’s job as manager, in his second campaign at the club, has been the subject of widespread speculation since United’s early exit from the Champions League group stage in December.
That failure was compounded by United’s defeat in the second-tier Europa League by arch-rivals Liverpool last month.
Ferguson calls on United fans to rally behind Van Gaal
However, Van Gaal, who has been tipped to make a summer departure to make way for Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager, will lead his team into Sunday’s game against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in confident mood following their 1-0 win over Everton at Old Trafford.
That was United’s fourth win in five domestic league games and left them just a point behind fourth-placed Manchester City, currently occupying the final Champions League spot on offer to English clubs.
“I said in the dressing room after the match that it was very important to win, otherwise the victory against City was worthless,” said Van Gaal. “We keep in touch with City, one point behind, and we keep in touch with Arsenal, five points behind.”
Van Gaal admits Man Utd blown away by Liverpool
Van Gaal has been under fire from critics and fans alike, yet he can make great strides with his young squad in what will be a critical month of April.
Home matches against doomed Aston Villa and struggling Crystal Palace offer six points to a team that has grown in stature at Old Trafford in recent weeks, while Van Gaal can steer United into the FA Cup final by first winning an admittedly tough replay with West Ham and then a Wembley semi-final against Everton.
Van Gaal now needs to manage his players wisely at the stage of a season where fatigue can creep in, especially with international demands thrown in as well.
Daley Blind, who was superb in policing the menace of Belgium striker Romalu Lukaku at Old Trafford, is a case in point.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2016.
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