Van Gaal: This is a new Man Utd now

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Van Gaal and United hitting their stride
Van Gaal and United hitting their stride

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has claimed his side have been transformed since their derby day defeat against Manchester City last November.

As United prepare to meet Manuel Pellegrini's stuttering champions at Old Trafford next Sunday, they are doing so with their sights set on finishing ahead of a team that appeared to be several steps ahead of them when they first met five months ago.

How the landscape in Manchester has changed since then, with Van Gaal's United moving ahead of City in the Premier League standings after their 3-1 win against Aston Villa on Saturday.

While the fallen Premier League kings will leap above their neighbour once more if they beat Crystal Palace on Monday night, the chasm between the two sides has clearly shrunk, with Van Gaal suggesting the United of today are unrecognisable from the team he inherited last summer.

“It was another Manchester United (against Man City last November), I believe,” stated Van Gaal.

“That was more in the start of the process and now we are in the end of the process.

“Now we have developed the team. I think also the confidence of our players is very high at the moment but also our performances show that, so it’s not the same Manchester United.”

Van Gaal stressed that the confidence flowing through his team has contributed to their five straight Premier League wins and he is hoping they continue their momentum as they push for a top two finish.

“City still have one match in hand at the moment and only when they lose points or if it’s a draw, then we will be even," he added. "They also have a better goal difference so they have to lose, then we are better than City.

“This next game is the decisive game. It’s like the game against Liverpool and the game against Chelsea. You have to win these kinds of matches.”