Speaking after the game against Wolfsburg that sealed United’s Europa League place, Van Gaal said his team was performing better in competitions as opposed to his first year in charge of the club or the David Moyes era.
He said: “At the moment I can’t defend myself because we’re out of the Champions League and every word I say is the wrong one. But when I see the facts, we got further in the Capital One Cup and qualified for the Champions League group.
“We’re still in a good position in the Premier League, so the facts are saying we’re better than last year. That’s my answer because I can only give facts. I’m disappointed that we are out of the Champions League.
“It’s a matter of time (before United challenge the best again) because this year it can’t be. I’ve said that to the players.”
Speaking to Manchester United’s official website, Van Gaal said: “I think it is a crazy match. We scored the goals, then they are cancelling [out our] goals. Still we had chances, but they have also chances. When we scored, they scored after two minutes again.
“Also the winning goal was two minutes after we had equalised, so we had the chance to win I think. We fought for the win, but with ten men at the end [after injuries] we couldn’t do more than what we have done.”
On his team’s chances in the Europa League, Van Gaal said: “I haven’t thought about that at this moment. I am very disappointed, the players are very disappointed. This is the league where we wanted to show our qualities, and we cannot do that anymore.”
Manchester United will enter the round of 32 in the Europa League.