The veteran Dutch coach is disappointed that his players have tailed off in the final 30 minutes of matches, including in their previous game against Everton, and expects to see an improvement over the coming weeks as the Red Devils enter their most challenging period of the season so far.
United braced for tough month
After tonight's match against West Brom, United take on Manchester City and Chelsea in the space of seven days. A week later they face Crystal Palace, before travelling to London to play Arsenal on November 22.
Van Gaal insists that while the result is ultimately the most important thing, points are always the direct result of style, formation, philosophy and overall fitness - and he wants his players to start showcasing their true quality as a team following a difficult start to the 2014-15 campaign.
Van Gaal wants United to play with style
"It is the game, the style, the formation and the philosophy that we have to judge and not the points," the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach told United's official website. "The points are coming when we are playing well, and not only well for 60 minutes but for 90 minutes.
"They [the players] are coming back from the national teams and we had an evaluation about the last 30 minutes against Everton. We have to be professional, we have to evaluate and we have to improve. We have to learn from our faults. There is no psychological benefit from being in fourth."
"We have to learn from our faults. There is no psychological benefit from being in fourth." - Louis van Gaal.
United boosted by returning players
United occupied fourth spot before the weekend, but have fallen to sixth place after being leapfrogged by West Ham and Liverpool this weekend. However, Van Gaal's men will climb back up to fourth - and close the gap on league-leaders Chelsea to eight points - by defeating the Baggies this evening.
The visitors have been boosted by the return of several first-team regulars, including Ander Herrera, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick, who could all make surprise starts for the Red Devils. Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are also in contention to feature.
United aim to end poor away run
Should United secure maximum points, it will be the first time under Van Gaal - and the first time in 2014 - they have recorded three straight league wins. But their record on the road has been desperately poor of late - and failure to win tonight will make it six away games without a Premier League victory. That last time that happened? 18 years ago.
In order to end that barren run, Manchester United will need their key players to step up. Wayne Rooney is still suspended, so the onus will fall on the likes of Radamel Falcao, Juan Mata and Angel di Maria for inspiration.
Di Maria was unfortunate to miss out on September's Premier League Player of the Month award - he's been involved in six goals in his five Premier League appearances - and he could, once again, prove the difference between the two sides.
The Baggies will also need to be wary of Robin van Persie, who has scored four goals and assisted two in his previous seven league appearances against them.
Van Gaal encouraged by players' attitude
Van Gaal has been encouraged by his players' attitude in recent training sessions, but wants every member of his starting eleven to work to kill the game off - if in a position to do so - tonight.
"Fitness is maybe a point because I have adapted my intensity of training sessions to a lower level," van Gaal added. "I have to give a certain level because we need to play for 90 minutes. But I think we are fit enough. What I see of my players, they are fighting until the last minute and they are willing to do everything. I am very happy with the passion of my players.
"We have to work to kill the game. You can do that, not with one, three or eight, but with 11 players. All of them have to think the same, otherwise you lose balls and then we are going back instead of forward. That is what we have to do but that is not so easy. It takes time."
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