Van Gaal: Big chance for Man U to be in top 4

BACK IN THE GAME: United striker Rashford celebrating at the end of the match against City, in which he scored the only goal. Manager van Gaal has renewed hope of finishing in the Premier League's top four after Sunday's game.


    Mar 22, 2016

    Van Gaal: Big chance for Man U to be in top 4


    MANCHESTER United manager Louis van Gaal believes that his team have a "big chance" of finishing in the Premier League's top four following their 1-0 win at Manchester City.

    United's season looked to be on the rocks after they were knocked out of the Europa League by Liverpool last Thursday. But teenage striker Marcus Rashford's clinically taken 16th-minute effort got them back on track at the Etihad Stadium in Sunday's derby.

    As well as ending a run of four games without victory in all competitions, the result took United to within a point of City, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League berth. Van Gaal is confident that his team can outstrip their local rivals over the eight-game run-in.

    "I have said that we must win this game and we have done it so I am very happy," said the Dutchman, whose day had begun with fresh press reports linking Jose Mourinho to his position.

    City were missing defensive duo Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi.

    Rashford gave stand-in centre-back Martin Demichelis a torrid time, streaking past him to score the game's only goal.

    With five goals in eight games, he has taken to life at Old Trafford with an ease that belies his 18 years of age.

    But van Gaal batted away talk that he has played himself into England contention.

    "I don't want to interfere and we don't have to exaggerate neither," he said.

    Van Gaal said he did not know whether captain Wayne Rooney will be fit to return from his knee injury after the international break.

    But the manager's selection problems pale in comparison to those troubling his City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini, who lost winger Raheem Sterling to a groin problem and goalkeeper Joe Hart to a calf injury.

    Pellegrini estimated that both would be out for "three or four weeks", which would rule them out of England's forthcoming friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands and potentially next month's two-leg Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain as well.

    City's fourth defeat in six league games, and ninth in total, left them 15 points behind leaders Leicester City and they now have both United and West Ham United on their tail.

    Pellegrini dismissed the suggestion that with Pep Guardiola's arrival as his replacement now public knowledge, he has lost the ability to motivate his players.

    "I don't think I lose any control," he said. "The attitude of the team today (Sunday) reflects that they are all involved with what we want to do.

    "Of course, it's not the best way to finish the season but I am happy with the attitude."