The Dutch coach is having a testing week—one of many during a particularly troubled season at Old Trafford.
United came from behind to earn an FA Cup quarter-final replay against West Ham United, but were dumped out of the Europa League at the hands of Liverpool in the first-ever continental meeting between the two fierce rivals.
On Sunday they face City, in a clash which takes on extra significance considering the proximity between the two in the league, where the Red Devils trail their rivals by just four points.
City currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot, and with third-place Arsenal winning against Everton on Saturday to move four points clear of Manuel Pellegrini’s side, it is increasingly looking like a plethora of sides—including City, United, West Ham and Stoke City—are all battling for one UCL qualifying spot.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s bout, van Gaal has insisted that his side are still in the running for fourth, but that City have a major advantage over the Red Devils.
“We are still capable of finishing in the first four,” van Gaal began, speaking ahead of the match, as per The Sun.
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“This is a very important game for us, because we are four points behind,” he continued.
“But the schedule does not help. We played in the Europa League on Thursday and we only have two days to recover. That makes it difficult to get the result.
“City played on Tuesday, but that was the same when we played Arsenal a few weeks ago – and we beat them. I hope we can also beat City. I think we have to do that.”