Louis van Gaal admitted Manchester United were far from their best against Everton, saying they were rode their luck in claiming a “stolen” three points.
Anthony Martial fired home the second-half winner to break the Toffees’ resistance in a 1-0 win at Old Trafford, as United netted their 1,000th goal in Premier League history.
However, on an afternoon where club legend Sir Bobby Charlton was honoured by having the south stand named after him, Van Gaal insisted that he feels his side were fortunate to escape with a vital three points in their quest for a top-four finish.
“I think it was more or less a stolen victory,” Van Gaal told Sky Sports. “We didn’t play so well. It looked like we were not fresh enough, despite the extra days to prepare. You do not know how the players are going to come back after the international break.
“We scored a very good goal I have to say, and I am very happy with the victory, but they [Everton] could have scored two goals so today we were the lucky team.
“They played a little bit different than we expected, and we had to change in the second half, and we got better.
“Still, we have played much better against other teams. The win is the most important thing.
“We also want to give entertainment for the fans, and today they were entertained because of the tension.
“If we lost today, the victory against [Manchester] City is worthless. Now we are still in the race, and have four home matches left.
“We keep in touch with City, one point behind, and we keep in touch with Arsenal, five points behind. We have to play Tottenham, not an easy match, but normally we play very well against the top teams and if we continue like that I am very happy.”
United’s 54th-minute goal was set up by full-back Tim Fosu-Mensah, who had come off the bench to replace the ineffective Marcos Rojo. The Argentinian endured a torrid time in the first half, particularly when up against Gerard Deulofeu and Van Gaal thought he was feeling the effects of international duty.
Van Gaal said: “I think Rojo had a problem with his jet lag, so I changed him. I saw the space on the right side and I said to Timothy that, ‘You have to take profit of that’.
“When a player does that it is a bit of luck for the manager but every credit is for Timothy, not the manager.”
Van Gaal on Sir Bobby
Van Gaal did also acknowledge a sense of relief in getting a victory to send Charlton home a happy man.
“I said before the game that we have to give Sir Bobby a victory,” Van Gaal added. “If we lose today, then he would not have had a fantastic day anymore. He was very pleased in the dressing room.”