Louis van Gaal has declared that Manchester United are "too big" a club to go 26 years without winning a league title - a period of time Liverpool will reach if not crowned champions this season.

United, of course, went exactly the same number of years in the wilderness - between 1967 and 1993 - before Sir Alex Ferguson won the first of his 13 league titles (over, by coincidence, a 26-year managerial career at the club) but the landscape of football has changed dramatically since then.

Van Gaal admitted that United - and Liverpool - had underperformed this season ahead of tomorrow morning's crucial meeting of the sides at Anfield, which could prove hugely significant for the Dutch manager's future at his club.

It will also provide clear evidence whether Jurgen Klopp can achieve a top-four finish with Liverpool.


Although United's 3-3 draw away to Newcastle United midweek was highly entertaining, it was also, at times, shambolic, and means van Gaal's side have won just one of their last eight league matches. Another defeat would send United back into crisis after recent losses against Norwich and Stoke led to van Gaal considering his position amid mounting pressure.

Told Liverpool had not won the league since 1990, and asked whether he could envisage United, three years after they were last champions, entering a similarly barren spell, van Gaal said: "I am part of the transition so I cannot imagine that shall happen with Manchester United. But as you say, when it is happening to Liverpool, it can happen also to Manchester United.

"But I cannot imagine that, because we are in transition and we are going in the right way. But maybe it shall take a longer time [than I think].

"It [United] is too big, too organised and we have an infrastructure and we are improving that every year."

That final point is arguable. There is no great desire to sack van Gaal from the United hierarchy but his position has been difficult to defend at times and that will come again should Liverpool win tomorrow and if there is an increased fear that the manager cannot finish in the top four and deliver Champions League football next season.

"It's much more difficult to win the Premier League than 10 years ago," van Gaal argued. "The difference between Liverpool and Manchester United and the rest of the league was bigger than now. So the level is higher and the difference between the clubs is a smaller gap."

Van Gaal will be encouraged by his impressive coaching record against Liverpool, having won three league games so far, and by Wayne Rooney's return to goal-scoring with four goals in three matches.

"It makes it more easy because I have put all my money on Wayne as a striker," van Gaal said.

Van Gaal also confirmed Michael Carrick was out injured and that he was unlikely to risk Bastian Schweinsteiger.