Top-four target for van Gaal

Louis van Gaal has set Manchester United an initial target of a top-four finish in this season's Premier League.

Last Updated: 30/08/14 at 07:26 Post Comment

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United's new manager is yet to deliver a competitive victory and suffered the indignity of a 4-0 defeat at League One MK Dons in Tuesday's Capital One Cup tie.

Neither that setback, nor a return of just one Premier League point from two games, has dented the Dutchman's confidence and he remains convinced he can bring a new era of domestic and European success to Old Trafford.

Van Gaal is even refusing to rule out a title challenge this season, but ahead of Saturday's trip to Burnley he has again stressed it will take time to rebuild United's squad and successfully implement his methods.

He said: "Before September 1, I have given every player a reasonable chance - it would not have been good to come as a new manager and say 'I want 11 new players'. The process needs time and we are building up a new team.

"I hope we shall succeed and that we are this year in the top four, because the Champions League suits a club like Manchester United.

"Then maybe the next step is to be champions and the next step after that is to be winner of the Champions League, but that needs time. A lot of clubs fight for many, many years and never succeed.

"We can still be the champions of England in my first year. Maybe you will laugh but in my former clubs I have started like this so for me it is not big news."

Van Gaal reminded the press of the positive reports which accompanied United's successful pre-season tour of the United States, where Roma, Real Madrid and Liverpool were all defeated.

He said: "I was a king in the United States, and now I am not a king any more? I am the same Louis van Gaal with the same record and the same philosophy, and I am very confident I shall succeed here."

Van Gaal is also to ask Roy Hodgson to clarify his comments on Luke Shaw after launching an impassioned defence of the teenage star.

Shaw has endured a difficult start to life at Old Trafford since his £28million move from Southampton.

Van Gaal made the 19-year-old train on his own during the tour of the United States because he felt the player had turned up to pre-season out of shape.

The United manager was impressed with the way Shaw battled his way back to full fitness and had it not been for a hamstring injury he picked up just before the start of the season, it seems certain the England left-back would have played in the club's opening two league games.

"I have read nasty articles about Shaw," the United boss said.

"In the United States I said to him 'you came and you were not fit'.

"I changed his programme and he did everything that he has to do to be fit.

"Now he is an example in the dressing room. He is training fantastically. He is not fit now because he is injured. Roy Hodgson cannot judge at this moment. He cannot judge him because I have never seen him here at a (United) training session.

"I think he is referring to the World Cup. It is possible, I don't know. That is what I want to ask.

"But now Shaw is doing a great job."

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