Louis van Gaal insists he feels no added pressure as Manchester United manager despite defeat to Sunderland and his admission that a top-four spot could be beyond the club now.
Goals from Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone condemned United to a seventh Premier League defeat of the season, with Anthony Martial’s goal not enough to overcome the side second from bottom as Sunderland claimed a deserved 2-1 win.
Van Gaal’s position has been the subject of much speculation this week, but the Dutchman insists he feels no added pressure despite this latest defeat.
United remain six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City in the race for Champions League qualification, having played a game more than each of the four sides above them.
“It shall be very difficult now because we’ve given five points away against Chelsea and now. It’s too much at this time,” Van Gaal told BT Sport of their top-four hopes.
“You have to win this kind of game,” the Dutchman added. “We can only blame ourselves. We could not cope with Sunderland’s aggression.”
Asked whether this defeat puts him under more pressure, Van Gaal replied: “No. I have to do my work and I do my work to my utmost best. I cannot do more. I shall prepare my players against Midtyjlland 100% and I shall do that always.
United face Danish side Midtyjlland in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 first-leg tie on Thursday, and Van Gaal believes winning the competition – which guarantees Champions League qualification for next season – might be his club’s best chance.
“I think after this match that is the best route,” he said. “That’s not so easy because there are a lot of very equal teams participating.”