Louis van Gaal urges Manchester United to keep pressure on Manchester City
Published 05/05/2016 | 17:46
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal does not believe Manchester City's Champions League exit will have any bearing on the battle to finish in the top four.
City's European dream died meekly in the second leg of their semi-final against Real Madrid, going down 1-0 at the Bernabeu with little attacking threat.
And while that might have an impact on their morale, it also leaves City with clear objectives between now and the end of the campaign. A priority will be to maintain the gap that keeps them in the Barclays Premier League's Champions League spots and ahead of their neighbours.
That stands at four points going into the weekend, with United having three games left to City's two.
"The situation has not been changed by the defeat of Manchester City. It is the same situation," said Van Gaal.
The Dutchman is right to suggest the mathematics of the equation did not shift in Madrid, though there is a psychological aspect to City's defeat that is harder to quantify.
It remains to be seen how much effect defeat in Spain will have on a squad who had prioritised Europe, while manager Manuel Pellegrini's interest in the club's fortunes is now on a short clock, as he prepares to leave at the end of the season.
But Van Gaal knows from recent experience that defeat in one competition need not cast a shadow over another.
When United were ousted from the Europa League by Liverpool in March, they rallied with a 1-0 away success over their city rivals just three days later.
Asked if he expected Pellegrini's side to experience any sort of hangover, Van Gaal said: "It's dependable on the team and the way you recover in your head also.
"We have done that several times after a big defeat. That's why I said I'm proud of my players at the (end-of-season) gala, they have the spirit to show that after a big defeat."
For their part, United must simply look to take three points at Norwich on Saturday and at West Ham in their last match at Upton Park to ramp up the pressure heading into the final weekend.
And given they have lost seven of their 17 league games on the road, that will be no simple task.
"Now we have to win three games in a row, (with two) away games," said Van Gaal.
"We don't win too many away games. When we want to be champions we have to improve in the away matches, and win first away against Norwich and then West Ham United."