Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has told reporters he wants to win a title with the club, even if the Red Devils' top priority is to qualify for next year's UEFA Champions League, and he believes Marcus Rashford is not too young to play for England at UEFA Euro 2016.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday's clash with West Bromwich Albion, Van Gaal was asked about the Premier League title race and his goals for the rest of the season.
Per Jacob Murtagh of the Daily Mirror, he said he values titles over Champions League qualification, but the latter is the team's main goal: "I think everybody wants to win but they cannot always win. It is why this league is popular in the world. It is still our aim [top 4] but we also have an aim to win a title, the [UEFA] Europa League. United have never won it. A title is always better than top 4 but the Champions League is our aim."
United find themselves fifth in the Premier League standings and tied with Manchester City on points, thanks to the 1-0 win over Watford on Wednesday and the slumping form of the top four teams, who all dropped points last week. City have lost three in a row and are quickly wasting their title chances.
The Red Devils are trending upwards, and per the club's official Twitter account, Van Gaal says “belief” plays a big part:
Manchester United @ManUtd
Van Gaal on catching the top four: "When we close the gap then your belief rises. I'm telling the players they must believe." #mufc2016-3-4 16:04:18
The Dutchman was also asked about Rashford's chances of making England's squad for the 2016 UEFA European Championship after his sudden rise to fame over the last few weeks. The teenager hasn't been capped yet, but per Paul Hirst of the Times, Van Gaal wouldn't use his age as an excuse not to call him up:
Paul Hirst @hirstclass
LVG asked about possibility of Rashford going to the Euros: "It's never too early. Age is not important."2016-3-4 16:01:34
Turning his attention toward the task at hand, Van Gaal confirmed Bastian Schweinsteiger will return to the pitch in March, but he warned fans players have to be fit to play, and not just free from injury, per the club's official Twitter account.
Per Murtagh, he used the example of Marcos Rojo and how he prefers not to take risks:
Players are coming back but then, normally, they cannot play a match because the rhythm of the game is much higher.
So, we have to train more and let them play in the second team.
Maybe because I’m forced because of the circumstances to take a risk, like I have done with Marcos Rojo but, when I’m not forced to, then I shall not do that.
Lastly, he was asked about the possibility of a European “Super League,” a league formed by and for the wealthiest clubs of Europe. The idea has existed for some time now but gained plenty of traction when some of the Premier League's top clubs held a meeting among themselves on Tuesday, per ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti.
Per Simon Stone of BBC Sport, Van Gaal dismissed the idea, reminding reporters he hates “Super Leagues” and was an opponent of the Champions League when it first came around:
Simon Stone @sistoney67
LVG on idea of a Euro Super League: "Sport is to be the best. When the Champions League started, I said it was rubbish."2016-3-4 16:02:38
West Bromwich Albion held league-leaders Leicester City to a draw last week and have played some of their best football against the top Premier League teams all season long, so United will be warned when they visit the Hawthorns on Sunday.
A win would boost the Red Devils' chances of finishing in the top four of the standings, which would be good enough for a spot in next year's Champions League. The club can also qualify for the prestigious tournament by winning the Europa League.