Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

LVL GOUTTO PLAY GAME OF FANTASY FOOTBALL! ; PREVIEW STOKE V UNITEDLouis Van Gaal Says He Wants His Players to Dream Their Way to Glory as the Old Trafford Boss Continues Fight to Stay with the Top Two

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

LVL GOUTTO PLAY GAME OF FANTASY FOOTBALL! ; PREVIEW STOKE V UNITEDLouis Van Gaal Says He Wants His Players to Dream Their Way to Glory as the Old Trafford Boss Continues Fight to Stay with the Top Two

Article excerpt

LOUIS van Gaal wants United's squad to fantasise about matches in their sleep to make his Old Trafford dream come true.

The Reds boss enters 2015 still in with a chance of maintaining his impressive first-season record of winning a title with each new club he has joined, as he did at Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich.

The English festive season might not have been to the 63-year- old's taste and it has been made all the more bitter by the fact United failed to capitalise in the title race.

But the Reds can still dream.

Back-to-back Christmas crackers contained no jokes for the Reds' Dutch boss as they dropped two points in their second clash in 48 hours against Tottenham on Boxing Day.

But the nature of the roller-coaster programme also saw Jose Mourinho's Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini's City failing to completely enjoy the period.

United went into today's match at Stoke City 10 points behind leaders Chelsea and seven adrift of City.

However, the start of 2015 could have been a lot tighter at the top had United taken advantage of last Sunday's Christmas hangovers.

Chelsea beat West Ham on Boxing Day 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to maintain their lead while at the Hawthorns City were beating West Brom 3-1 in a snowstorm.

The Reds, meanwhile, were keeping apace beating Newcastle 3-1 at Old Trafford with a sizzling performance against the Geordies thanks to two goals from Wayne Rooney and one from Robin van Persie.

Two days later and United were the first to be gripped by fatigue at White Hart Lane as they played out a 0-0 stalemate with Spurs in the Sunday noon kick-off in London.

But dropping two points didn't prove as fatal as it might have done as hours later City blew a 2-0 Etihad lead against Burnley to draw 2-2 and Chelsea drew 1-1 at Southampton.

But Van Gaal wasn't encouraged by the two title rivals displaying vulnerability and insists United have to do the business themselves and not rely wholly on others.

"No I wasn't encouraged. When I was in Spain Real Madrid's game was always on another day to Barcelona," he said.

"When Real Madrid had played one day before us and they lost that game, then I thought, now we shall win! …

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