Louis van Gaal claims Manchester United will take things ‘step by step’ in their bid to snatch a top-four finish in the Premier League.
The Red Devils boss was facing intense speculation about his future at Old Trafford less then a fortnight ago, but his situation is now looking more positive with wins against Shrewsbury, FC Midtjylland and Arsenal complemented by teenager Marcus Rashford’s remarkable emergence.
It looked as if the negativity would return, though, as Watford threatened to upset the home faithful on Wednesday night, only for Juan Mata’s late free-kick to secure a fourth successive win in all competitions.
The strike was as classy as it was important given it secured a 1-0 win that moved injury-hit United level on points with fourth-placed Manchester City, who have a game in hand as well as a superior goal difference.
“We have to go step by step, I think,” Van Gaal said when asked about his side’s top-four hopes. “Of course we have now four victories in a row, it is fantastic, but we have a very small selection at the moment.
“We have the same problems as three weeks ago. Players are coming back but still I have to solve a problem every week in my line-up, so when players are coming back, they are not fit enough.
“You see how (Marcos) Rojo is struggling. I gave (him time in recent games) and I have to do that in matches in the Premier League. It is better to do in the second team but I am forced to do that.
“I think we are doing great the last four matches but still we have to go step by step.”
A trip to West Brom on Sunday now awaits as Van Gaal’s men continue to wade through a testing, fixture-heavy period.
Anthony Martial’s and Matteo Darmian’s returns against Watford were timely boosts although United still remain without a host of key players for a crucial period.