–Plans to close gap on Chelsea
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal agrees with experts who predict his side should be challenging for the Premier League title in 12 months.
A strong second half to this campaign has lifted Van Gaal’s team to the brink of a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League next year — a far cry from the disappointment of last season under David Moyes when they finished seventh.
Other managers, including West Bromwich Albion’s Tony Pulis, have predicted that United will be competing even higher up the league table next season, an analysis with which the Dutchman agrees.
“The board of Manchester United have given me three years for that objective so yes, it’s correct,” said Van Gaal.
“Okay, this year we are not challenging but we are very close to second position.
“I think Chelsea are far above other clubs but next year can be different. Next year we will also have a different squad — not only us but Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and the other clubs who are battling for first position.
“We have seen in the matches between the top clubs this season that it’s not a big gap.”
Van Gaal believes a busy summer in the transfer market, along with better preparations on this coming summer’s pre-season tour to the United States, will enhance his team’s title bid.
Last close season, the Reds embarked on a gruelling five-city tour of the States that proved exhausting and led to United making a terrible start to the campaign, collecting just 13 points from the opening 10 games, their worst opening to a season in 28 years.
This summer, Van Gaal has insisted on United remaining on the west coast of the US, based only in Seattle and San Jose and with far less travelling involved.
“We need better balance in our (team) selection but also Manchester United have adapted to a better (pre-season) preparation,” said Van Gaal.