Football

LVG: Time to end 10-year FA Cup drought

"It is hard to believe that long-serving players such as Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans have never won (the FA Cup)." - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal (above). PHOTO: REUTERS

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says ending the club's 10-year FA Cup drought is a priority this season.

The Red Devils were indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea as they survived some late scares to beat Stoke City 2-1 at home yesterday morning (Singapore time) and complete a fourth consecutive win in the Premier League to cement their place in the top four.

There is still a long way to go before United can even contemplate a title challenge, but progress is being made after last season's dismal post-Alex Ferguson spiral into mediocrity.

Arsenal and United have won the FA Cup a record 11 times each, but the Devils have not won it since a 3-0 victory over Millwall in the 2004 final.

But without Champions League football on their calendar this campaign and having already been knocked out of the League Cup, van Gaal hopes to do much better in the FA Cup, with the third-round draw taking place on Monday and the matches to be played on the weekend of Jan 3.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News after the Stoke win, the Dutchman said: "The league is our priority but the draw for the FA Cup will be made after this coming weekend's matches. I know what the FA Cup means to this club, our players and our fans. Its place in the history of Manchester United is well known.

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"So it is hard to believe that long-serving players such as Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans have never won this cup. It is a medal I know they are desperate to get their hands on.

"The FA Cup will be a welcome addition to our current Premier League schedule. This is a very important competition and probably the most famous domestic cup in the world."

Van Gaal claimed United could still challenge for the title "if we win every game", but he was not getting carried away.

"I want to wait until after our next match (to assess things), but we're in a very good moment. I want to see what happens against Southampton - when we win a second consecutive away match, then we'll have great momentum." 
- Wire Services.