Van Gaal targets top two finish after Spurs rout

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Van Gaal's United hit top form at last
Van Gaal's United hit top form at last

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal set his sights on finishing ahead of struggling Manchester City in the Premier League after watching his team rip Tottenham apart with their best display of the season.

United finally looked to be clicking into gear after many months of frustrating displays under Van Gaal's guidance as goals from Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney buried Spurs before half-time at Old Trafford.

When asked whether City had been dragged into the "rat race" to secure a top four finish - a term Van Gaal uses to describe the fight for the top four - the United boss said: "Of course, because Arsenal is one point behind and we are two points behind.

"It is good for us and the fans and the media because you can write a lot of things down.

"We have to go step by step. It is a rat race and we are now two points from the second position.

"We have waited a long time for such a victory. The performance was very good against a very good team so I am very pleased.

"We played like a team and that is nice to see after a defeat to Arsenal (in the FA Cup last Monday).

"It's a massively important game after a defeat against a competitor so I am very pleased with the players.

"We have to go step by step and the next game is Liverpool. Manchester United has not won too often the games in Liverpool."

Van Gaal thinks United are finally starting to tick after months of tinkering with selection and tactics.

"The first system was I played with three defenders, the second system was this," he added. "I played it against Man City, Chelsea and a third one, but we didn't do this what we have done today.

"It is a matter of time and process. Maybe now is the game that gives us a fantastic boost."

Spurs came into the match on the back of successive victories, but they were unable to muster any kind of challenge on Sunday.

When asked whether it was Tottenham's worst performance of the season, head coach Mauricio Pochettino said: "Maybe, yes."

"We made a lot of mistakes. We never find the way we need to play and damage Manchester United.

"I think we made a lot of mistakes. This was the key."

Spurs were being tipped to sneak into the Champions League places, but now they are six points adrift and Pochettino is a concerned man.

"I am worried about our performance," the Argentinian said. "You can lose here, but our performance was poor. We need to try and analyse and fix that.

"I think a lot of times today we showed a very poor performance.

"I don't remember when was the last time we had a similar performance. We are all disappointed, not only me, all the team."