Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal spoke of the need for easing the fixture congestion in the Premier League during the Christmas period. The Dutchman, in his first year in England as a head coach, voiced his disapproval of the chaotic run-in to Christmas which sees his side play 9 games in 36 days.

“I’m not happy but I cannot change it,” Van Gaal said. “I don’t agree with it because I don’t think that it is good for the players that they play another match within two days. In December, it shall be like that.

“We also have families. I also have a wife and kids and grandchildren and I cannot see them this Christmas.

“But I want to work in the Premier League, I have to adapt and I shall adapt. But I don’t think it is good for players, neither for the families.”

“You cannot say Chelsea are not used to playing in the Champions League and the Premier League, and League Cup and FA Cup,” he said.

“When you are challenged during the whole season you become better.”

Manchester United next face Stoke City on Tuesday night, and will be looking to pick up three more points to close the gap to third-placed Southampton, who lost to Manchester City on Sunday. United go into the match against Stoke on the back of a convincing performance against Hull, where goals from Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie helped the team to a win that Van Gaal described as “their best performance of the season so far.”

Defender Chris Smalling outlined the manager’s ambitions over the coming week.

“He asked for six points as a must from these two home games and we’re going to deliver that on Tuesday,” said Smalling.

“Confidence is good with our form at Old Trafford. We’ll be coming out firing again.”

After Stoke on Tuesday, Manchester United travel to Southampton and host Liverpool the week after. These two matches could go a long way in defining United’s league position come May.

Mid-December sees United playing Aston Villa (A), Newcastle (H), Tottenham (A) and Stoke (A) before the year ends. The nightmare run of 9 games in 36 days ends with a 3rd round FA cup tie on Jan 3, 2015.

The team not being involved in European competitions is scant consolation for Van Gaal right now, as the injury list and heavy fixture list threatens to undo all the good work that United have done in the last couple of months.

The Red Devils have lost just one of their last 8 games, and with three wins on the trot, have closed the gap on third-placed Southampton to just four points. The FA Cup will provide further dilemmas to Van Gaal as far as team selection is concerned, and he will be hopeful United come out of the busy Christmas period with all squad members intact.