Manchester United have no chance of reaching the coveted top four and, with it, a place in the Champions League for next season. That is, at least, the opinion of former manager Tommy Docherty.
Under Louis van Gaal, United have endured their worst start to the season to a Premier League season and currently occupy seventh place - two points behind surprise package West Ham in fourth position.
Van Gaal has struggled to find consistency with his expensively assembled side, already presiding over three defeats since assuming control in the summer, and the manager has conceded that his constant change of approach has not been ideal.
Docherty has been far from impressed by Van Gaal since the experienced Dutchman moved to Old Trafford to succeed David Moyes on a permanent basis, and is already feeling pessimistic about the club’s European prospects.
“Van Gaal must have arrived dreaming of winning the title, but that went out the window in the opening few weeks," Docherty told Goal.com.
- Louis van Gaal agrees with Manchester United critics
- Louis van Gaal deserves criticism for failing to sign Toni Kroos
- Kevin Strootman makes injury return
“I wouldn’t put any money on them finishing in the top four, to be honest. Unless they buck up their ideas, their best chance of getting into the Champions League is to swim the Channel.
“There is no doubt that Van Gaal’s record on the Continent is fantastic, but perhaps he hasn’t appreciated that the English Premier League is a different ball game.”
Upon his arrival at Manchester United, Van Gaal had requested that he and his team were judged after three months of the season. It does not, however, make for pretty reading.
David Moyes during his brief tenure could boast a superior record to Van Gaal over the same period, and with European action to contend with, although the latter has been particularly unfortunate with injuries to a number of players.
Van Gaal had nine injuries and one suspension ahead of the narrow weekend victory over Crystal Palace, and believes it will still be some time until he is truly able to leave a lasting impression with the club.
“When I answer that I have a clear vision then you have to know that I’m [considered] arrogant but when you have seen what I have done in my career you have to know that I have a vision and that I’m very confident in it,” he told reporters.
“I don’t think it is arrogant, it is self-confidence, although not only confidence in myself but in my players, in the club, in the structure and organisation, in the staff, in my press officer.”