The Dutchman blamed a poor start for United's failure to challenge Chelsea this season.
Starting from when he took over last summer, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has used one of those years successfully turning United back into one of the strongest clubs in the division, and the Red Devils currently occupy the last remaining Champions League qualification position.
"The board have given three years for that objective [winning the league]. This year we have not challenged but we are very close to the second position,” the Dutchman said, according to Sky Sports.
“We started badly this year but if you cut the start of it we should equalise Chelsea. So we have to start next season better.
“Next year definitely we will challenge. We will have another squad but not only us – Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and all the clubs fighting for those positions will too.
“There is not a big gap between the rest of the top clubs and Chelsea. You can judge that when the clubs play against each other. We need balance in our selection and I’ve said that many times.”
This first season was always going to be the most difficult one to make an attempt on the title, with United having to both recover from the disappointment of the last campaign where they finished seventh, and also adjust to Van Gaal's way of doing things.
As it turned out though, United may be a little frustrated that they failed to have a greater attempt at the championship, with Manchester City struggling and no League Cup or European competition to consider.
Chelsea are 10 points clear at the top of the league, but they still had some troubling periods where other clubs failed to capitalise.
It is looking likely that next year United will be back in the Champions League and therefore expected to make some sort of impact in Europe. Many will surely be expecting a move impressive impact in the domestic cups as well.
But considering how much improved United have been since the turn of the year, at least up until the Chelsea defeat, it is nothing but a promising sign of the development made under Louis van Gaal, a development set to move up another gear with the expected squad adjustments in the summer.