Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has revealed that he does not expect to qualify for the Champions League next season, suggesting that he is not getting carried away with his side’s form of late.
The Red Devils experienced a number of changes in the summer as they bid to immediately bounce back from last season’s disappointment.
After hiring former Barcelona coach Van Gaal and spending more than £150 million on new players ahead of the new season, a top-four spot is widely regarded as the minimum expectation come next May.
After a rather poor start to the campaign, this season’s prospects were momentarily curbed until a late run of good form has seen United surge up the table and consolidate themselves in the top four.
Four wins on the bounce, including a 2-1 away win at Arsenal, has been hugely morale-boosting but Van Gaal has remained calm on his side’s chances of returning to Europe’s biggest competition next season.
Speaking ahead of Monday’s clash with fellow top-four hopefuls Southampton, the Dutchman told reporters that while United on track, only in May does their current position have any significance.
“I don’t expect to qualify, because at the end of the season it counts, now it doesn’t count. We are going the right way despite the injuries we’ve had, we are at the right point,” he is quoted as saying by The Mirror.
“I think the important thing is that the players want to follow the philosophy which is why, despite the many changes, we could continue progressing.
“It is a big challenge to get back into the Champions League but, of course, I knew that it was a big challenge.”
A win against the Saints on Monday will take the Red Devils up to third spot in the table, eight points behind leaders Chelsea and seven points clear of rivals Liverpool.