Louis van Gaal has said people “live in the past” if they believe Manchester United and Liverpool deserve a place in the Champions League.
Both clubs are preparing for their first-ever meeting in European competition on Thursday, when Liverpool host their bitter rivals in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16.
The match will be of added importance considering the positions of both sides in the Premier League, with United in sixth and Liverpool a position and three points behind with three games in hand.
Champions League qualification is assured for the winner of the Europa League, meaning that the struggling league campaigns both sides have endured would be forgotten were they to win the competition.
Speaking ahead of the game, Van Gaal was asked whether the two sides deserve to be in Europe’s elite competition due to their history, but the Dutchman rubbished such claims.
“It’s not normal that one team is dominating for 20 years in a row,” said Van Gaal. “It was another time. You live in the past. You have to live in the present.
“Other teams are in the Champions League. We are happy to play in the Europa League, but six clubs are representing the Premier League in Europe.
“You have to be proud of that. Not many countries have so many representing at that level.
“You have noticed against Midjytlland we had 58,000 [at Old Trafford] so the fans of Manchester United are appreciating.
“I think against Liverpool there will be 75,000, also a sell-out. That is what I have to say. It is very important for both teams.”