Louis van Gaal accused Manchester United players of being complacent and off the boil in a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday that left the Premier League top-four race alive for arch rivals Liverpool.
The Dutchman described the defeat as the most disappointing of his Old Trafford reign and said the result would give Liverpool a renewed hope in the race for Champions League qualification.
A victory at Goodison Park would have all but guaranteed a return to the Champions League for United, but now Liverpool can close the gap to just four points should the Reds win against relegation threatened Hull City on Tuesday.
Van Gaal was clearly annoyed with United’s complacent approach after the match. As quoted by The Guardian: “I think it was the most disappointing performance because it is the first time that I have seen our motivation, inspiration and aggression was not as high as the opponent. In sport you shall always be compared to your opponent and that was the reason.”
“I had already the feeling and my colleagues Ryan Giggs and Albert [Stuivenberg] had the feeling because the warm-up was not so good as usual. You hope you can recover and stimulate your players by saying something before the game but by then it is too late. You have to prepare the match two or three days before. Everton did that and they have won because of that.”
United now have lost back to back Premier League games after winning the previous four, but are still well placed to secure a top four spot with four games to go.
The result should spark a new life in the top four race but Liverpool are hardly helping themselves after a drab 0-0 draw against West Brom on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Van Gaal said he is confident that he will guide Manchester United to titles before his contract expires in 2017.
“I have a period of three years and I am sure I will win a championship or a title within the three years. Maybe we can do that next year,” Van Gaal told reporters.
The former Barcelona manager, who signed a three-year-contract last summer, revealed in March that the United job will be his last in football management.