Manchester: Man United manager Louis van Gaal believes that his team have a "big chance" of finishing in the Premier League's top four following their 1-0 win at Manchester City.
Louis van Gaal
United's season looked to be on the rocks after they were knocked out of the Europa League by Liverpool last Thursday, but teenage striker Marcus Rashford's clinically taken 16th-minute strike got them back on track at the Etihad Stadium in Sunday's derby.
As well as ending a run of four games without victory in all competitions, the result took United to within a point of City, who currently occupy fourth and final Champions League berth, and Van Gaal is confident that his team can outstrip their local rivals over the eight-game run-in.
"I have said that we must win this game and we have done it, so I am very happy," said the Dutchman, whose day had begun with fresh press reports linking Jose Mourinho to his position. "Because otherwise the gap was too big if they won or a draw (and the gap) is still four points, eight matches to go, then it should be very difficult. Now it is in our own hands. We have to win our games. We have more home matches than away matches. We don't lose so much at Old Trafford, so we have a big chance."
Manchester United's striker Marcus Rashford (second from right) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during their EPL match against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Sunday. Pic/AFP
Van Gaal said he did not know whether captain Wayne Rooney will be fit to return from his knee injury after the international break. But the United manager's selection problems pale in comparison to those that are troubling his City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini, who lost winger Raheem Sterling to a groin problem and goalkeeper Joe Hart to a calf injury.
Pellegrini estimated that both would be out for "three or four weeks", which would rule them out of England's friendlies and next month's Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain as well. City's fourth defeat in six league games has left them 15 points behind leaders Leicester City.