It is an interesting position from van Gaal, in that this is the same sentiment that his opposing number on Monday, Arsene Wenger, has been heavily criticized for, over the years.
But Van Gaal is acutely aware of the financial ramifications of missing out on Champions League football for the second consecutive year, and agrees with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that securing Champions League football is effectively the same as winning a trophy.
“I want to get always the goals that we have set, and the goals we have set is the top four, and a trophy would be fantastic,” Van Gaal said. “It’s fantastic for the players and the manager but our role in our first year together is to win a place in the Champions League. I think that Arsene Wenger is right – I think that Arsene Wenger is always saying right things – for a club, Champions League is the highest level and that’s why he’s saying that.
“To finish in the first four is a fantastic result and for us at Manchester United even more I think. If you win the FA Cup you are not in the Champions League but you have won a title.”
Not sure after dominating English football for the better part of 15 years, that Manchester United fans will agree with van Gaal or Arsene Wenger that finishing fourth is like winning a trophy,