Van Gaal: United can still win title
December aside, van Gaal says it was a 'very good' 2015 for Devils
MAN UNITED v SWANSEA
(Tonight, 10.55pm, Singtel TV Ch 103 & StarHub TV Ch 228)
Louis van Gaal believes 2015 should largely be regarded as "a very good year" for Manchester United despite their current woes.
United are out of the Champions League and are in the middle of their worst run for 26 seasons, but the United manager thinks it would be wrong to judge the year based on their displays last month.
After a dour 0-0 draw against PSV and a stalemate against Leicester, United began the month with a goalless encounter against West Ham.
Defeats by Bournemouth, Norwich, Stoke and Wolfsburg followed - as well as another goalless draw against Chelsea - and, all of a sudden, United are nine points behind leaders Arsenal and in sixth position.
United may be ending the year on a low point but, after guiding the club to fourth last season and adding more "balance" to the squad in the summer, van Gaal believes the team have moved forward over the last 12 months.
"When you don't assess December, it was a very good year, 2015," said the United manager, who has spent more than £250 million ($524m) since taking over 18 months ago.
"But you cannot do that because a year has 12 months.
"I think we have fulfilled the wish and our aim in the first season and, after that, we have managed to give balance to the team and that resulted in November when we were first.
"Then we are out of the Champions League and that gives us a big blow."
Those comments may not go down well with the United fans who voiced their concerns about van Gaal and his style of play long before December.
Some United supporters have booed their team off and implored them to attack during matches after becoming annoyed at the ponderous, possession-based style often on display at Old Trafford.
But the Dutch veteran says United fans are the best he has come across in his long career.
"I've had bad periods at all my clubs and I have to say the best fans are here at Manchester United," said van Gaal. "In such a difficult period, they were applauding the performance of the players and that's fantastic."
Despite United's poor form, van Gaal still has his eyes on the title.
"We need to win because at the end of the season I want to be top, not middle," van Gaal said.
Although United failed to beat Chelsea on Monday, the team's performance in the goalless stalemate was encouraging enough to prevent a fan revolt and save the manager.
Van Gaal admits the pressure is still on him, however, as he cannot afford for the likes of Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester City and Tottenham to break away.
He added: "We have to get points otherwise the gap is too big and that is why we have to do what we have to do.
"We have to work, prepare the game, perform and then evaluate the game again. That is of course much more difficult when you don't win than when you win."
The pressure on van Gaal will increase if United fail to beat Swansea at Old Trafford tonight.
"You have to show it for 90 minutes against the resistance of the opponents and also under the pressure of the environment and the pressure you put yourself under," said the 64-year-old, who has lost all three games against Swansea since becoming United manager.
"And you have to cope with that.
"I was three times lost against Swansea, and then you have to evaluate why you lost. It is always like that, then you continue with the same vicious circle of working.
"There is no magic, it is looking at what has happened and what can improve, as a team but also as an individual player." - Wire Services.
It’s strange but the table shows that literally anyone can win the league this season... nobody seems to want to win it.
— Defender Phil Jones insists that Man United can still win title
United recall striker Keane from loan
Manchester United have recalled striker Will Keane from his loan at Preston North End. Keane joined the Championship club on a season-long loan, and had scored two goals in 22 appearances.
United have struggled for goals this season, scoring 22 in their 19 Premier League games - only six teams have scored fewer goals in the top flight this campaign.
Manager Louis van Gaal sold Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez in the summer and has since loaned James Wilson to Brighton, meaning Keane could get a chance to impress - starting with tonight's clash with Swansea. Keane, 22, has made just a five-minute cameo as a United substitute in a 3-2 defeat by Blackburn in December 2011.
Asked if Keane might be the answer to United's woes, Preston boss Simon Grayson said: "It's a big step up. But he's played regularly, he's fit, so time will tell." - PA Sport.