April 13, 2015 08:31:46 UK
A bullish Louis van Gaal has targeted a Champions League group stage spot after Manchester United thrashed Manchester City 4-2 at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Red Devils, who took their time to find form following the arrival of their new head coach in the summer, have clicked into gear in recent weeks, with a sixth straight Premier League win giving them a four-point cushion over City in the race for third.
The goal we set was to get into the first four and I’ll be very pleased if we reach that goal.
Louis van Gaal
And, with the prize of an automatic Champions League group stage spot up for grabs, Van Gaal has urged his players to finish the job, while being aware that games against leaders Chelsea and second-placed Arsenal are still on the calendar.
The Dutchman BBC Sport: “We are now four points ahead of City in third place, which is very important because it gets you automatic qualification into the Champions League.
“The goal we set was to get into the first four and I’ll be very pleased if we reach that goal. I said it would not be easy and we still have six matches to play. It is not done yet, but we are on our way.”
United trail the Gunners by just one point following their derby success and are 3.25 to top the standings if Chelsea were excluded, with Arsenal 1.61, while the Red Devils can be backed at 5.50 to win the Premier League title next season.
The only minor issue for Van Gaal to be concerned about was a calf problem sustained by midfielder Michael Carrick, who was forced from the field late in the game, leaving United to end the day with ten men.
Van Gaal added: “It was a little bit stupid of me (not to substitute him).
“He was wise to step off, but we have to wait and see tomorrow (Monday). He had a stiff calf.”
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