Wayne Rooney insists Manchester United will mount a serious title challenge next season.
A difficult first season of the Louis van Gaal era ended with a somewhat underwhelming 0-0 draw at Hull on Sunday.
Despite a disappointing run of one win in their final six games, United achieved their aim of Champions League qualification - but Rooney is hungry for so much more.
The United skipper is used to challenging for titles and that is what he wants to be doing next season.
Van Gaal's team finished 17 points behind this year's winners Chelsea, but Rooney insists the gap between the two teams is capable of being bridged, so long as the club make the right moves in the transfer market.
"I believe we are (close)," the United captain told Sky Sports.
"You take the first 10 games and I think we had 13 points.
"When you consider from after that amount of games to where we've finished, we've probably got as many points after that as anyone else.
"I think we're close, there's no doubt about it. You can see in our performances, we're outplaying teams, dominating possession, and it's just that final thing of taking our chances.
"In the (defeat at) Chelsea, if I had scored that chance with my left foot then it could have been a completely different game and might have put them under a bit of pressure - it might have been a lot closer than it's finished.
"As a group of players, myself and the manager - we all believe we're close and I'm sure with a player or two in the summer we'll have a good chance of going for the title."
Premier League 2014/15 memorable moments
Premier League 2014/15 memorable moments
1/12 Comical tackle of the season
Phil Jones’ commitment has never been in question – but he really went the extra mile in May’s Premier League clash against Arsenal. Having slipped with Olivier Giroud on his shoulder, the defender managed to nod a header away – despite lying flat on the ground. Former Gunners defender Martin Keown labelled him as a “comical stuntman” – and it’s hard to disagree on this showing.
2/12 Unluckiest player of the season
In the opening match of the season, Ashley Young may have seen Ki Sung-Yeung’s goal and thought it was going to be a bad day – but little did he know, it was about to get a whole lot worse for him. Whilst berating team-mates for their defending, videos appear to show bird excrement falling from the sky and straight into the midfielder’s mouth – something he still denies, of course.
3/12 Best free-kick
“It was a boring game and I livened it up. My mates think I’m a legend” – the words of Jordan Dunn, the pitch invader who ran on to take a free-kick in August’s match between West Ham and Spurs. His effort was arguably better than many seen on the pitch that day, but Dunn was subsequently fined £305 for his moment of madness.
4/12 Best worst celebration
Charlie Adam’s reaction to scoring one of the goals of the season? A not-so-great robot celebration – which led team-mate Peter Crouch to judge it as “horribly wrong”. Adam had just scored from his own half against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but many will remember the goal for other reasons.
5/12 Worst attempt at a head-butt
An addition to the historic list of on-field battles between Manchester United and Arsenal, Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere took umbrage with opponent Marouane Fellaini – and appeared to head-butt the Belgian. Wilshere’s nine inch height disadvantage meant that his strike failed to meet its target, however, probably helping him to avoid an FA ban.
6/12 Strangest complaint
Match officials will carry out a number of checks before every match – ensuring twenty-two are on the field of play, checking there are no holes in the nets and so on – but in October, before Leicester’s match at Swansea, the away team’s goalkeepers became convinced that the crossbar was too high and complained to the officials. Checks were made – and the goals were found to be the correct height.
7/12 Biggest loser at mind games
After West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United in February, Hammers chief Sam Allardyce accused his opponents of purely playing long-ball football – much to the Dutchman’s anger. Instead of brushing the comments off, Van Gaal produced a document to suggest it was actually Allardyce’s men who lumped the ball forward more often. Big Sam’s efforts to get under the skin of his counterpart had worked.
8/12 The Alan Pardew award for bonkers behaviour from a manager
In February, the pressure was starting to mount on Leicester boss Nigel Pearson – and things threatened to come to a head during his side’s 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace. Eagles midfielder James McArthur had collided with the hot-headed manager on the touchline, and instead of helping him to his feet, Pearson appeared to strangle the 27-year-old. He subsequently escaped punishment by the FA.
9/12 Most topical celebration
On the day of Manchester United’s victory over Spurs in March, a video emerged showing the United Wayne Rooney skipper being knocked to the ground in a boxing match in his own home by ex-team-mate Phil Bardsley. He went on to celebrate his goal in the 3-0 win with a celebration imitating his own knock-out.
10/12 Weirdest press conference/best name calling
Nigel Pearson has always been a manager who will back his players – even if it means ostracising himself from the media. A journalist had asked Pearson to explain his comments that his side had faced a high level of criticism and negativity, and instead of giving a reasoned answer, Pearson labelled the reporter as an “ostrich” and said his “head must be in the sand”.
11/12 The delusional boaster award
Step aside Jose Mourinho – you’re not the best coach in the Premier League, according to Newcastle boss John Carver. His suggestion for the mantle? Himself. Speaking recently, on the back of eight straight defeats, Toon boss Carver made the bold statement – perhaps to deflect attention onto himself and away from his struggling squad.
12/12 Playground moment
Cesc Fabregas has always been able to pick a pass – and showed this more than ever in May’s away trip to West Brom. During a break in play, the Spaniard’s 20-yard punt hit opponent Chris Brunt on the head whilst referee Mike Jones was dealing with another incident. Jones saw Fabregas’ strike and showed him a straight red card – but his three-match ban has since been reduced to just one, after Chelsea successfully argued the initial punishment was excessive.
A quarter-final exit to Arsenal in the FA Cup - the one trophy he is yet to win - remains a sore point for Rooney.
But given the turbulent times at Old Trafford over the last two years, Rooney is reasonably satisfied with the season as a whole.
"There was a change of manager, coaches, and a lot of new players coming in - so realistically we knew it was going to be a tough ask for us to go and win the Premier League," the striker added.
"The least we wanted was a top-four finish because, after last season, for this football club it would've been a disaster if we didn't make the top four.
"It would have been nice to win some silverware - that's why the Arsenal defeat in the cup was so disappointing - but in terms of the Premier League the most vital thing for us was getting in the top four."
Phil Jones thinks United must start well next season if they are to challenge.
As Rooney pointed out, United had 13 points after their opening 10 matches. That cannot happen next year, Jones says.
"We need to start well next season, for definite," the defender said.
"We will go away and have a rest, recuperate, think about the season and how we have done, what we can improve on and we will come back ready to go again next season.
"If we could have picked up three points instead of one in places like Sunderland and Burnley, then you give yourself a better chance.
"But that is the way the season has gone and we are reasonably satisfied."
Van Gaal heads to the Algarve this week for a much-needed break.
He has already started planning for next season. He held meetings with the players he wants out of the club over the weekend.
One of them was Radamel Falcao, who has been told he can return to Monaco after scoring just four goals during his loan spell at Old Trafford.
United are desperate to keep David de Gea away from Real Madrid, but should he leave, Victor Valdes did his chances of replacing his compatriot no harm on Sunday.
"He was terrific," Jones added. "He pulled off some wonderful saves. He is a great goalkeeper. He has very good English and he is good at communicating."
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