Manchester United fans can rest easily tonight, safe in the knowledge that after 3 years their side has finally “found their level”, according to manager Louis Van Gaal.
“I think the standard of opposition was the big difference,” Van Gaal told reporters, following United’s 3-0 win over Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup. “Now the fans can see how difficult it is, always playing against teams in the Premier and Danish Leagues.”
After the game, Jake Humphreys and the BT Sport pundits joked that the Red Devils are currently playing in the “wrong league” and that relegation from the Premier League “could be beneficial”. “They think we belong in the Championship? How dare they say that,” an angry Van Gaal responded. “Maybe some day but not now. In this moment, we are a League One team.”
One reporter asked the Dutchman if he was being “too harsh” on his side, a claim Van Gaal quickly refuted. “I think what we have seen tonight is that this team belongs somewhere around mid-table of League One,” he said. “With a bit of luck, I could maybe see this side making the playoffs, provided Rooney stayed fit.”
Having found their level, Van Gaal admits he’s “very relieved” United will not be participating in the Champions League next season, and hopes his side will exit the Europa League this week. “I think it is good that we do not have the pressure of the Champions League for next season. Hopefully we shall also remove the distraction of the UEFA Cup very shortly.”
On the domestic front, how far does Van Gaal think United can progress in the FA Cup, with West Ham waiting in the next round? “Not very far,” Van Gaal responded sharply. “We must play a Premier League side next, so it will be very difficult for us.”