Man United went in front at Stamford Bridge thanks to Jesse Lingard’s superb effort but Diego Costa equalised late on to rescue a point for Chelsea.
The result left United fifth in the Premier League, six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City. Van Gaal admitted that United needed to beat Chelsea to keep pace in the race to finish in the top four.
“When your aim is to be third, second or first then you need to win because the gap is already big and the gap is now bigger than before and that is not good,” van Gaal said.
“I know that we have to play a very nasty away duel and match against Chelsea. Of course, I shall say to my players that it was a fantastic performance until the last quarter, I have said that already, but we have to reward ourselves because it is not the first time this has overcome us.”
With the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Arsenal all in good form, it was crucial that United secured a win against Chelsea but they failed to do so.
United need to string a run of wins together but they haven’t looked capable of doing that at any point this term. Missing out on the top four would be disastrous for the club and the blame would lie at van Gaal’s feet if they don’t.