Saturday 1 October 2016

Louis van Gaal: I dream of beating Manchester City

Manchester United boss has his eyes on third place

Paul Hirst

Published 10/04/2015 | 17:42

Louis van Gaal's United go into next Sunday's Manchester derby having won their last five league games
Louis van Gaal's United go into next Sunday's Manchester derby having won their last five league games

Louis van Gaal is dreaming of recording his first Manchester derby win this weekend.

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Dutchman Van Gaal lost in his first meeting with Manchester City last November when Sergio Aguero scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for the Blues.

That was Manchester United's fourth successive loss to their neighbours, and Van Gaal is determined to avoid another reverse on Sunday when Manuel Pellegrini's men come to Old Trafford.

"I dream of it, every player shall dream of the victory," the United boss said in a press conference at Carrington.

Bragging rights are not the only thing at stake this weekend.

Victory would strengthen United's grip on third place as they would then be four points clear of their 'noisy neighbours'.

A third-placed finish would guarantee direct entry into the Champions League and that is what Van Gaal is aiming for.

"You want to win because it is a big step in the table also," he said.

Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

"When you win, third place is then reachable and a month ago nobody was thinking about that, besides me, of course.

"Third is good because you are certainly qualified for the Champions League and then we do better than the goal that was set in pre-season."

United go into the match as favourites because of their recent form.

Van Gaal's team have won five straight league matches while City have won just two of their last seven in all competitions.

Van Gaal thinks form will have little bearing on the outcome of the match, though.

The former Barcelona manager said: "Manchester City has lost several games, but I don't think that shall (be) a big influence in the game because it is a special game."

Van Gaal is not concerned about United's recent dire record against their opponents.

"That's not my history," he said.

"What can I say? We have lost 1-0. That is my history, the last game we played against them and we had a red card in the 39th minute, I believe."

Chris Smalling was the man who was dismissed at the Etihad Stadium.

The England defender earned his first booking for blocking Joe Hart as he went to kick the ball out of his hands, and just before half-time he saw yellow for a second time for clumsily hacking down James Milner.

Van Gaal will remind his players they must stay on the pitch this weekend.

He added: "In such games always you have to control your aggression and we did not do that then so I hope we have learned from that moment."

Smalling sat out last weekend's 3-1 win over Aston Villa due to illness, but he is back in contention for the derby.

Left-back Luke Shaw, however, remains out.

Van Gaal said: "I don't think Shaw is fit to play but I do think Smalling can play."

As Van Gaal said last week, Robin van Persie is not fit enough to feature. The Dutch striker returned to training this week, but Van Gaal says he lacks match practice so he will not be risked this weekend.

"Robin van Persie is not fit enough to play," Van Gaal said.

Midfielder Andreas Pereira is unavailable because he is away with the Brazil Under-20 side.

"Andreas Pereira has been invited by the Brazilian team and I have given him permission to go. He is not available," Van Gaal said.

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