MANCHESTER United manager Louis van Gaal attempted to play down talk of a Premier League title challenge after extending their winning run to six matches in emphatic style against Liverpool yesterday.
United picked off their bitter north-west rivals with a clinical display notable for goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie and several outstanding saves by goalkeeper David de Gea.
Another victory tightened their grip on third place and kept them five points behind Manchester City, despite a dreadful start to the season that featured just three wins in 11 games.
United have now doubled that haul in the last five weeks, though Van Gaal insisted that momentum masked further areas of potential improvement.
“The most important match is always the next match and we have to see match by match,” said the Dutchman.
“Of course, we are winning now six matches in a row and that is fantastic, but we have to improve our playing style and I am saying that nearly every week. Only after the matches after QPR and Hull I have said, ‘OK, we are dominating the game for 90 minutes.’
“We could have dominated the game for 90 minutes today but we didn’t do that. We gave unnecessary balls away in the second half. We have to improve, but we are very pleased because we know what it is to win against Liverpool. Everybody is happy.”
De Gea’s brilliant display earned him man of the match, and Van Gaal refused to discuss contract talks with the highly-rated Spaniard, who has 18 months left on his current deal.
“That is between the club and the player and it is not open for discussion for the media,” he said. You don’t have to know. I don’t want to know what you are doing next year. I am not interested.”