Louis van Gaal insists he is not embarrassed by the fact Manchester United are so far behind Premier League leaders Leicester – and calls the Foxes’ rise “beautiful”.
Van Gaal, who has spent £250million on signing new players in his two years at Old Trafford, takes his side into Sunday’s derby against Manchester City at the Etihad a staggering 19 points off the summit – and four off a top-four place.
That gap could become seven points should United lose at the Etihad, but speaking about falling so behind top spot, Van Gaal made light of his side’s struggles and instead chose to focus on the job Claudio Ranieri had done at Leicester.
Van Gaal, who does have two games in hand on the flying Foxes, including the Manchester derby, said: “I don’t think it is embarrassing to be so far behind Leicester.
“Football is a sport and what Leicester are doing makes sport beautiful. It means the money is not always dominating.
“It is about the quality of a team and Leicester is an example of a how to play like a team. I can only give a big compliment to the manager and his staff.”
While Leicester have disappeared into the distance, United are faced with a Manchester derby that will have major ramifications for both clubs.
United trail their neighbours by four points in the fight for a top-four finish before Sunday’s kickoff.
And Van Gaal said: “We are still capable of finishing in the first four.
“This is a very important game for us, because we are four points behind.
“But the schedule does not help. We played in the Europa League on Thursday and we only have two days to recover. That makes it difficult to get the result.
“City played on Tuesday, but that was the same when we played Arsenal a few weeks ago – and we beat them. I hope we can also beat City. I think we have to do that.”