Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has accused his side’s critics of living in the past as the Old Trafford club prepare to face bitter rivals Liverpool in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie tomorrow night.
The two clubs have 38 top-flight English titles between them and have conquered Europe a combined eight times but will meet at Anfield in the continent’s second-tier club competition.
Van Gaal rebuffed suggestions that the nature of the tie demonstrated the diminishing status of the two clubs and insists the Europa League should be embraced, especially as a Champions League place is on offer for the competition winners.
“It is not normal that one team is dominating for 20 years in a row as champions,” said Van Gaal.
“How many titles have Liverpool and how many titles Manchester United? It was another time. You live in the past. You live in the past and you have to live in the present.
“How many fans do you think there will be against Liverpool [in the second leg]? I think 75,000. And I also think Liverpool will be sold out. That is what I have to say. The competition is very important for both teams.”
Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia is set for a return to United’s matchday squad after five months out with a foot injury, although the clash is likely to come too soon for Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.