Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has insisted that his current crop of players are capable of winning the Champions League.
Man United, who lead Club Brugge 3-1 from the first leg of their qualifying tie, are just one game away from progressing to the Champions League group stages.
Van Gaal’s side are expected to easily win the second leg tonight, especially since all they need to do is avoid losing by two goals in Belgium.
However, van Gaal believes that his side can not only qualify for Europe’s most prestigious competition, but actually win the entire thing as well.
“Yes, I believe we can win the Champions League and I believe more in the mix of ages than players only from 27 to 34,” said van Gaal.
The manager noted that Man United’s current breadth of talent from all ages is an important aspect for a side competing in the Champions League: “I did not bring [Andreas] Pereira and [Jesse] Lingard [to Belgium]. We have a lot of young players like [Paddy] McNair and [Tyler] Blackett. [Sam] Johnstone showed his talents in the USA, for example, and they are not so old. We have a great selection of 25 or 26 players.”
“We have the two older guys, so I think our mixture is good but you cannot compare it with the mixture that I had in 1995 [with Ajax].”
Many criticise and doubt van Gaal’s methods, but nobody can deny that the man knows how to win silverware in Europe. The fact that the Dutchman rates his current group of players so highly bodes well for United’s future in the Champions League.
A balance of youth and experience – something United are now able to boast about – can be the key to brushing past Europe’s elite. However, with this present squad still in its fledgling stages, talk of toppling the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid is somewhat premature, especially when United are yet to actually qualify for the competition itself.