Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal faced the media ahead of his teama s game with Sunderland at home on Saturday. The Dutchman was asked several questions about injuries, the teama s performance, line-ups, but the most important questions put in front of the former Holland national team head coach was the cluba s qualification into next yeara s Champions League.

At the moment, United find themselves locked in a five horse race for two places. The club are currently fourth on the table, a point behind third placed Arsenal and a point above fifth placed Southampton. However, the Red Devils are only two points off sixth placed Liverpool and three points off Tottenham Hotspur who are in seventh place.

The 63-year-old was asked what he made of the battle for fourth place and responded in typical Van Gaal fashion with a few appropriately timed pauses.

a It is because of the rat race between five clubs that we have to win, we have to be there.

“It is not so important now, but at the end of the season. Therefore you have to win your matches because the other clubs are winning their matches.a

When asked what it would mean, if United do, indeed miss out on a qualification spot, he said,

“It would be a big disappointment of course, because when you start a season with the objective of finishing in the first four and getting into the Champions League, then you are occupied with that, but we are still there [in the top four] so I don’t know why we are continuing to talk about it.”

When the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach was asked about the teama s perceived lack of progress since he took over from David Moyes in the summer, he was unsurprisingly bullish.

“It is a process of three years and if you had asked me at the start of the season that I am still in the top four on May 1, I shall sign for that,” said the United boss.

“We are still in the FA Cup. I am pleased with the results. I am not pleased with a lot of the performances from my team, but our process is continuing and we are always getting better.

“In spite of the many injures we had in the first half of the year, we are there. And in spite of the criticism of our defence, we are there and we don’t have many goals against us. So we are not unhappy.

“When you see our matches we are mostly the better team but the better team does not always win.”