MANCHESTER. – Louis van Gaal has risked the wrath of Manchester United’s hierarchy and supporters after admitting he wants to win the FA Cup more than the Europa League.
It was a remarkable statement from the Dutchman ahead of last night’s tie with Danish minnows FC Midtjylland, after conceding Europe’s secondary competition represents his side’s best chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
That is Van Gaal’s minimum requirement in his second season at Old Trafford.
United’s investors on the New York Stock Exchange expect them to be competing at the highest level and have already witnessed the massive dips in revenue experienced when David Moyes failed to secure a top four finish.
That cost the former Everton manager his job just nine months into a six-year contract.
And Van Gaal runs the risk of being sacked if he fails to lead United back into the Champions League next season.
His side are currently six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City – and on Saturday lost for the seventh time in the league this season, against relegation-fighting Sunderland.
United can reach the Champions League through the back door if they triumph in the Europa League – but Van Gaal says the Cup is higher on his own list of priorities.
“It is a personal wish to win the FA Cup,” he said.
“I have already won the Uefa Cup and I want to win a title in England and that is why I have come to this country and to make Manchester United champions or give them a title.
“For Manchester United it is much more important to win the Europa League because it will give us the Champions League.”
United play Shrewsbury in the fifth round of the Cup on Monday.
United haven’t won the famous old trophy since 2004.
And while victory at Wembley would be gleefully received by fans who have been chastened by the club’s slide since SIr Alex Ferguson’s retirement – Champions League football is the ultimate aim.
Van Gaal readily admits the Europa League is now his best route back into European football’s top competition.
“No not only mine, but ours I think,” he said.
“I think it is also difficult to win because there are also very good European teams in the league.
“We are with the last 32 teams so we still need to win a lot of rounds.
“It’s a way to get into the Champions League.
“It’s a fantastic aim for us to win this cup because Manchester United have never won it.” – Manchester Evening News.