Belfast Telegraph

Confident United can keep momentum going, says Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal hopes Manchester United's midweek win over Stoke can provide the springboard for a leap back up the table.

United produced one of their best displays of the season as they brushed aside the Potters 3-0 in the Barclays Premier League at Old Trafford.

It was a vast improvement on their previous outing at home, when they went down to a dismal 1-0 loss to Southampton and were booed off, with manager Van Gaal taking some heavy criticism. That Saints defeat also saw United fail to register a first-half goal for the 11th home game in succession, but Van Gaal thinks the corner was turned against Stoke.

United will now hope to build some momentum as they travel to Chelsea on Sunday.

Van Gaal said: "I think the players have that confidence with them at this moment. We have scored two times in the first half also. I hope it shall give them that boost to continue.

"But Chelsea are also in good shape because (Guus) Hiddink doesn't lose. It's not so easy to beat them at home, but still I have the feeling that we can do that."

For United the minimum aim for the remainder of the season is to secure a place in the top four and a Champions League qualification spot.

Van Gaal remains a man under pressure, with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho continually linked with his job, and is well aware of the requirements.

United were five points off the top four places in fifth ahead of this weekend's round of fixtures.

Van Gaal said: "Now we have to win. The most important thing is to win our games because the gap is still five points. It's not too much, but it is still five points.

"That's our first aim, that we close the gap between number four."

Since the Southampton defeat United have also reached the fifth round of the FA Cup with victory at Championship Derby.

But, despite being pleased with these results and hoping they promise more, Van Gaal is wary of saying all the problems are over and his players have finally grasped his style.

He said: "I cannot say that yet, because I am more critical than the media.

"I am not out of range when we win in a way that we like, but I'm also not as disappointed when we lose in a way I don't like."

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