Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has claimed that the Red Devils are still in the race for the top four despite the 3-0 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday (10 April) leaves them four points behind fourth place Manchester City in the Premier League table. The Dutch boss, meanwhile, lamented the injury suffered by Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the second half of the game and backed his decision to deploy Ashley Young during the second part of the game despite the winger failing to make any impact.
The Premier League giants controlled the possession of the game during a goalless first half but failed to provide a threat to Hugo Lloris. Van Gaal replaced Marcus Rashford at half-time with Young to use the versatile winger as the number nine. The decision failed to pay off as the Englishman did not create any chances while Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela scored three goals in a rampant six-minute spell to give Tottenham the three points.
Questioned after the game about Young's introduction, van Gaal said to Sky Sports: "I wanted more running in behind because, in the first half, we didn't have an attacking point and that is the reason."
The boss, meanwhile, was also forced to replace Fosu-Mensah in the 68th minute after the 18-year-old picked up an injury. The academy star was the best United player in the pitch so far and his substitution came just two minutes before Alli scored the opener for Tottenham. Van Gaal, however, doesn't believe that the final outcome was due to Fosu-Mensah's injury.
"He did his job very well but he is injured and he has to go out and that's a pity for the team. But it was a very difficult selection for him because I could also have chosen Matteo Darmian and I cannot think that a consequence of Timothy's injury is a 3-0 defeat, I don't believe in that."
The defeat leaves United four points behind Manchester City with just six games remaining. Yet, van Gaal is still confident his side can secure the top four.
"Every team can lose to everybody so we are still in the race but, of course, when you lose a game you have to close the gap again and that is difficult."
"I think Tottenham is a great team and I have said that also in advance of this match. But, until the first goal, I think we were a good team who were playing good in Tottenham and we also had a big chance for a goal, so you cannot say the way that we have lost ... Yes 3-0 is a big negative result but the way that we have played until the first goal was good."