Van Gaal: Man Utd's top four spot not secure

The Red Devils moved eight points clear of Liverpool with victory over Aston Villa but the Dutch coach is wary of upcoming matches against major rivals

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal does not believe his side have yet secured their place in next season’s Champions League.

The Red Devils moved eight points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool with victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford as they look to return to Europe’s elite club competition having missed out last season.

But former Barcelona coach Van Gaal feels his side cannot be sure of their place in the top four due to having to face Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City before the end of the campaign, though he admits his side could yet challenge for the title.

“We still have to play against the other three teams in the top four of the league,” he told reporters. “It’s not done yet but of course we have made a big gap so we can suffer a defeat.

“I’m looking higher up and then we have to win every week. Everything is possible. Liverpool are eight points behind us and we are more than eight behind Chelsea.

“Normally it is not likely we are champions but we are giving Chelsea pressure. Normally Chelsea would be champions.”

The Red Devils were forced to be patient for much of their encounter against Tim Sherwood’s side, with two goals from Ander Herrera and a superb Wayne Rooney strike securing the three points.

And Van Gaal conceded he was pleased that his side were able to pick up their fifth-straight victory despite not being at their best against a well organised Villa outfit.

“Before this match I was afraid because there was an international break. But we are in good shape and the confidence has risen, and then you play against a very defensive organisation.

“In attack it is not easy. You have to focus and concentrate yourself much more. It is not so easy to create many chances and score goals.

“In the end it was 3-1. In the first half we conceded no chances and in the second half, one chance and one goal, and that was a lucky goal.

“I’m very pleased with the result. I know the performance could be better but we won and that’s the most important thing.”

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