Burnley vs Manchester United: Louis van Gaal targets Premier League title next season - and the Champions League after that
Dutchman not deterred by recent setbacks
Louis van Gaal has come out fighting following Manchester United's dreadful start to the season - and is even targeting the Premier League title and Champions League glory in the next couple of years.
The Dutchman has endured a terrible start since replacing David Moyes - losing at home to Swansea on the opening day of the season, labouring to a draw against Sunderland and then worst of all, being beaten 4-0 by League One side MK Dons in the Capital One Cup.
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However, Van Gaal remains confident in his abilities and is ambitious about where he thinks the club can go under his stewardship.
The former Netherlands manager still believes his team can finish in the top four this season. He then wants to win the Premier League in 2015/16 and then set his sights on being crowned European champions the following May.
"I hope we are in the top four this season because the Champions League suits a club like United, and then maybe the next step is to be champions and then the next step is to be the winners of the Champions League," the United manager said.
Given the way that his team crumbled against League One opposition three nights ago, Van Gaal clearly has a lot of work to do.
But that does not deter the 63-year-old, who is used to proving his critics wrong.
At Barcelona, the club stood 10th after 14 games of the 1998-99 season but ended as champions. With Bayern Munich 11 years later, Van Gaal's side were seventh after 13 matches but won the Bundesliga.
And not two months ago Van Gaal defied a wave of public pessimism to lead the Netherlands to the semi-finals of the World Cup, where they lost on penalties to Argentina.
"When I started with the Dutch national team (in 2012) no-one believed we could qualify (for the World Cup)," Van Gaal said.
"After that they said we wouldn't have any chance to get through the group stage, and after that (they said) 'we'll lose against every opponent'."
Speaking at his press conference in Carrington to preview Saturday's meeting with Burnley, Van Gaal issued a very blunt response to a question about whether he has ever had any doubts in his own ability.
"No," he said, before then taking aim at his critics.
"I have read your articles and I was the king in the United States (where Van Gaal won five consecutive matches on tour).
"Now I am not, but I am the same Louis van Gaal with the same record and same philosophy."
But despite Van Gaal's optimism, and the record-breaking £59.7m transfer of Angel di Maria, the facts paint a very bleak picture about the first three weeks of United's season.
It is hoped the arrival of Di Maria can lift the mood
In fact, United's start has been the stuff of nightmares.
Confidence within the squad has been hit by the draw at Sunderland and defeats to Swansea and MK Dons.
And Van Gaal thinks the task ahead of him will not get any easier when he takes his team to Burnley on Saturday.
"They will play with a lot of passion, a lot of long balls, but you have to fight against it," he said.
"It will be a very difficult game but we have to show we can play football, that we can pass the ball in spite of the pressure of Burnley."
Van Gaal needed a gentle reminder that he managed at Turf Moor 22 years ago with Ajax.
Then, Van Gaal's team - which included the likes of Edwin van der Sar, Dennis Bergkamp and Wim Jonk - beat the Clarets 1-0 in front of a crowd of 10,746 just six days after lifting the UEFA Cup.
"Yes, I was there!" Van Gaal said after pausing to think for a few seconds.
"We won. I took over there in '91, we won the UEFA Cup in the first season, in the second year we won the (Dutch) cup, and after the league.
"It was a step in the process."
This weekend will be a good barometer for judging how long that same process will take at United.
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