Van Gaal targets City
Louis van Gaal set his sights on catching Manchester City after watching his team rip Tottenham apart with their best display of the season.
For eight months Van Gaal has been promising Manchester United fans everything would soon start to click into place and it finally did on Sunday as United beat Spurs 3-0.
Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney found the net in a rampant first half display that had all the hallmarks of the Sir Alex Ferguson era at Old Trafford.
United played with speed, width, aggression and destruction to record a win that puts them within two points of second-placed City, who lead Arsenal by one point.
After losing at Burnley on Saturday, City have fallen further behind Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini's men are now in Van Gaal's sights.
When asked whether City had been dragged into the "rat race" - a term Van Gaal uses to describe the fight for the top four - the United boss said: "Of course, because Arsenal is one point behind and we are two points behind.
"It is good for us and the fans and the media because you can write a lot of things down.
"We have to go step by step. It is a rat race and we are now two points from the second position."
Van Gaal thinks the title is as good as gone. "It is too far away," he said, mindful of the fact that United are eight points behind Chelsea having played one more game.
But the United boss hopes the win over Spurs will inject confidence into his team, who have put in a series of unimaginative performances this season, much to the disappointment of their fans.
"We have waited a long time for such a victory," said Van Gaal, who faces Liverpool, Aston Villa, City, and Chelsea in the coming weeks.
"The performance was very good against a very good team so I am very pleased.
"We played like a team and that is nice to see after a defeat to Arsenal (on Monday)
"It's a massively important game after a defeat against a competitor so I am very pleased with the players.
"We have to go step by step and the next game is Liverpool. "Manchester United has not won too often the games in Liverpool."
Fellaini drove a low ball past Hugo Lloris to open the scoring and Carrick nodded in a second before Rooney rounded off the win in the 34th minute following a mistake by Nabil Bentaleb.
Van Gaal thinks United are finally starting to tick after months of tinkering with selection and tactics.
He said: "The first system was I played with three defenders, the second system was this. I played it against Man City, Chelsea and a third one. But we didn't do this what we have done today.
"It is a matter of time and process. Maybe now is the game that gives us a fantastic boost."
Spurs came into the match on the back of successive victories, but they were unable to muster any kind of challenge on Sunday.
When asked whether it was Tottenham's worst performance of the season, head coach Mauricio Pochettino said: "Maybe, yes."
"We made a lot of mistakes. We never find the way we need to play and damage Manchester United.
"I think we made a lot of mistakes. This was the key."
Spurs were being tipped to sneak into the Champions League places, but now they are six points adrift and Pochettino is a concerned man.
"I am worried about our performance," the Argentinian said.
"You can lose here, but our performance was poor.
"We need to try and analyse and fix that.
"I think a lot of times today we showed a very poor performance.
"I don't remember when was the last time we had a similar performance. We are all disappointed, not only me, all the team."