Louis van Gaal was pleased to keep up the pressure in the top-four race after Manchester United claimed a slender victory over Everton.
Anthony Martial scored the only goal – from one of just two United shots on target – as Van Gaal’s side edged the Toffees 1-0 in a tame Premier League contest at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Van Gaal accepted United were below par but the result lifted them back within a point of fourth-placed Manchester City in the battle for Champions League places.
“I said in the dressing room that it was very important to win, otherwise the victory against City was worthless,” Van Gaal said.
“We keep in touch with City, one point behind. We keep in touch with Arsenal, five points behind. We now have to play Tottenham – not an easy match – but normally we are playing very well against the top teams. If we continue like that I shall be very happy.”
United had the best chance of a goalless first half when a Martial shot was deflected narrowly wide. The breakthrough came after 53 minutes when substitute full-back Tim Fosu-Mensah, on for the off-the-pace Marcos Rojo, took advantage of slack defending to tee up Martial.
Everton, who held their own in an evenly-fought contest, almost responded immediately as Phil Jagielka headed against the bar and the same player was later denied by David de Gea but United held on.
The visitors also had some bright moments in the first half as Gerard Deulofeu tormented Rojo and Van Gaal put the Argentinian defender’s poor display down to the after-effects of international duty.
Van Gaal said: “I think Rojo had a problem with his jet lag, otherwise I cannot imagine (why he struggled). So, I changed him.”