Manchester, Aug 26 (IANS) Manchester United manager Luis van Gaal said on Wednsday that the English Premier League (EPL) giants have the ability to reclaim the European title this season.
The Dutch coach has previous experience of success in Europe, winning the Champions League title in 1995 with Ajax Amsterdam, beating AC Milan 1-0 in the final.
According to van Gaal, the blend of youth and experience in the present United squad reminds of that Ajax team of two decades ago which boasted the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Edgar Davids, Nwankwo Kanu, Finidi George, Patrick Kluivert and Clarence Seedorf.
“We (Ajax) won the (Champions League) final with players aged 18 and 19, but also with players like (Michael) Carrick and (Bastian) Schweinsteiger — it was Frank Rijkaard and Danny Blind, they were over 30. I believe in the mix,” van Gaal told the media ahead of the Champions League play-off second leg against Club Brugge.
“Yes, I believe in that. I believe more in the mix, than players only from 27 to 34-years-old,” he added. “It is also dependable what is happening in the transfer period, and we are starting to make a mixture, and it is important to make a mixture with young and older players.”
“You have to believe in the youth education. When you see Manchester United, and how many young players we have and play, we are starting with Luke Shaw, Memphis Depay, Adnan Januzaj, then Jesse Lingard, Paddy McNair.
“They are all playing the squad and sometimes they shall play more matches.”
The former Netherlands coach also believes that his side have been more effective as a defensive unit this season.
United are unbeaten in their opening four games of the season. But they have not been too effective upfront, managing to score on twice in the EPL so far.
“I divide football in to four main moments and we have two moments where the opponent has the ball and then we are at our best, I think. We proved that last year and now we are continuing with a lot of clean sheets so that is very important. But we have to improve when we have the ball,” van Gaal said.
“We have been a little bit unlucky. Liverpool and Arsenal was 0-0 on Monday but you can’t say they didn’t create anything.”
The 64-year-old is desperate to reach the Champions League group stages and is not ready to be complacent although United enjoyed a thumping 3-1 win over Brugge in the first leg.
“Yes, (this is United’s most important match). It’s been our aim for more than a year to be in the Champions League and still we are not yet participating,” he remarked. “It’s very important. We have to play the game and finish with more goals than our opponents. Then we will be in it.”
“We have to wait and see about the draw. It’s dependable also on the quality of our opponents, but first we have to beat Bruges and that is difficult enough,” he added.
“Let’s wait and see if we are continuing in the Champions League because that is the most important thing.”