Louis van Gaal has suggested inexperience is to blame for Manchester United failing to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
Leicester City will clinch the title if they win at Old Trafford on Sunday, becoming the first team to win a maiden English top-flight title since 1978, yet Van Gaal puts United’s relative underachievement down to a lack of know-how in his squad.
“The players we are now playing are not used to being champions,” Van Gaal said at his press conference on Friday. “I don’t think [Matteo] Darmian is used to it, and De Gea was never a champion.”
De Gea actually won the Premier League title with United in 2013 – Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have also won it – but Van Gaal stood by his claim.
He added: “I don’t agree with the way you made the question. Memphis Depay was champion last year, so not many players. Rooney, Carrick have been champions once, maybe more than once.
“You have to see the situation where the club is. We have seen that we are in a transition period. When I was mentioned as the coach it was also about that.
“When I took over we had five or six players above 32/33 – you have to buy other players. There were not too many young players. It is a process of transition.
“Now we are fighting for the Champions League and still in the FA Cup. We have to fight for something and we shall do it. Hopefully we can beat Leicester City.”
Van Gaal also reiterated he is part of the planning process for next season at Old Trafford, adding: “I’m involved. It’s logical because I’m the manager.”