Football: Van Gaal targets Europe as first step of United overhaul

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admits he must deliver Champions League football to Old Trafford next season before he can turn his attention to winning silverware.

Van Gaal faces a major rebuilding mission at Old Trafford following United's fall from grace since the departure of Alex Ferguson as manager in May 2013.

The Dutchman inherited a side that finished seventh in the Premier League last season and his reign has started disappointingly with a draw and a defeat in United's opening two league games.

United have 10 players absent through injury and are yet to receive a work permit for new signing Marcos Rojo ahead of Saturday's trip to newly-promoted Burnley - who famously beat United 1-0 in their first home game in the Premier League in 2009-10 - on Saturday.

But van Gaal, who also saw his side crash out of the League Cup against third-tier minnows Milton Keynes Dons in midweek, insists his long-term philosophy will pay off.

"This process needs time. We are building up a new team, I hope we will succeed," he said.

"I hope we are in the top four this season because the Champions League suits a club like United and then maybe the next step is to be champions and then the next step is to be the winners of the Champions League.

"But that takes time. A lot of clubs have fought to win all those things for many years and never succeeded."

Despite United's outlay of over £130 million (S$270 million) on players during the close-season, including the British record £59.7 million fee they paid for Real Madrid midfielder Angel Di Maria, van Gaal is expected to further strengthen his squad before Monday's transfer deadline.

And there also look certain to be out-goings with England internationals Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley linked with moves away from Old Trafford.

"We have made steps in our process," van Gaal said. "Before I started I said that I shall give every player a fair chance and I have done that.

"Also the players that were not in the United States - they played against MK Dons.

"I have given players a chance before Sept 1, so this gives them a reasonable chance to move or not - it is their choice. I have always said that.

"I never thought it was a good idea that I came here as manager and said I want 11 new players. I have given players a chance here."

Van Gaal's other decisions have included making Wayne Rooney club captain, a position that he will also fill with England.

And the United manager believes the forward, 28, is suited to leading his country.

"Yes, of course, otherwise I did not make him captain of Manchester United because that is the same role as what he now shall do in the national team," said van Gaal.

"I took three weeks to observe all my players in the USA (in pre-season) and I think he is ready for it and the future shall confirm that or not.

"I cannot predict that but my opinion at the moment is that he shall be a great captain for Manchester United."

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