After seeing his Manchester United side edge into the top-four of the Premier League, Louis van Gaal fired a warning to their rival clubs.
Having finished seventh in the table last season, it is imperative that the Reds return to the UEFA Champions League qualifying places this time round. Although over £150million was spent on the squad during the summer, the 20-time champions have made a relatively slow start to the campaign, already losing to Swansea City and Leicester City.
However, they sneaked past West Ham United 2-1 last weekend, and on Sunday afternoon they repeated this scoreline to collect another three points at the expense of Everton. This result puts United in the top-four for the first time in 12 months, and whilst they were far from their best, van Gaal has warned their rivals that there is much more to come.
“I’ve already told my players we aren’t playing good and we’ve already hit the top four, so what will happen when we’re playing well?” he said. “I mean playing well for 90 minutes. That needs time – I’m afraid to say it again, but you saw it. We need to improve the organisation because we were outstanding in the first half, but then we let them have so many chances.”
Indeed, were it not for David de Gea, it is no exaggeration to suggest United could have suffered a third defeat of the season. Not only did the Spain international save a Leighton Baines penalty kick at the end of the first half, but he produced another three crucial saves including an excellent stoppage time block from a Bryan Oviedo effort.
“In football these things happen and de Gea was the man of the match and the difference in the scoreline,” Toffees coach Roberto Martinez told the official club website. “Everyone in the ground was waiting for the net to bulge when [Leon] Osman and Oviedo had those chances. He had an outstanding performance which stopped us from a positive scoreline.”
Can United finish even higher than fourth place this season, or will they soon hit another stumbling block? Let us know your thoughts by joining the discussion below.