Louis van Gaal admitted he was “very pleased” with Manchester United’s performance in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace – but wishes his side took more of their chances.
A fourth-minute Damien Delaney own-goal and cracking Matteo Darmian strike 10 minutes after the break steered United to the Barclays Premier League victory at Old Trafford in a game they thoroughly dominated.
It leaves the fifth-placed Red Devils a point behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who play their game in hand against West Brom on Thursday.
And Van Gaal said: “I have told my players after the match that it was a good game – the only remark was that we didn’t score too much goals, because it was a match (that should have had a scoreline) of 5-0, I think.
“But I am pleased with the way we have played. We have created a lot of chances in the first half and the second half, and we didn’t give any away – maybe one in the first half and that was it, so I am very pleased.”
Van Gaal, whose side have four more league games to go and face Everton in the cup semi-final on Saturday, said: “I wanted three points, because that was the most important thing.
“We needed to close the gap, we needed to win and that is what I said to my players in advance of the match.
“We had to win, and that we have done – and now it is another game.
“I have said ‘first you can enjoy (this), but you must recover also because soon you have to play again.’
“Now we have to do it again, at quarter past five on Saturday.”
Wayne Rooney, occupying a midfield role, made his third appearance since returning to action from a knee injury, and Van Gaal was full of praise for the captain.
“He played about 75 minutes and I am building up his capacity in the matches,” Van Gaal said.
“He was the player who switched the play, and I liked that very much.
“Not any player has a fixed position. I use a player where I think they can give a high contribution in a particular game.
“It was more of a midfield role today, because of the way Crystal Palace was playing and I didn’t want to change (striker) Marcus Rashford from his position, so we had to look for another position for Wayne.
“He played there also last year, so it is not something new for him, and I am very happy with the way he performed.”
Although the official attendance given for the match was 75,277 – a figure understood to reflect the number of tickets sold – there appeared to be quite a few empty seats at Old Trafford.
But when that was put to Van Gaal in his post-match press conference, he brushed off the suggestion.
“I don’t see a lot of empty seats – but you have seen it because you want to see it,” the Dutchman said.