Louis van Gaal is confident that Manchester United will finish above Manchester City in the Premier League after the Red Devils’ derby-day demolition of Manuel Pellegrini’s outfit.
Manchester was painted red on Sunday as, courtesy of goals from Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling, United silenced their traditionally noisy neighbours 4-2 at Old Trafford.
And Van Gaal, who added that a top-four finish was his main target at the start of the campaign, believes that United are now on track for third place with a tussle with Arsenal for second also a possibility.
“We are now four points ahead of City for third place and that is very important, so it is in our hands,” said the Dutchman.
“The goal we set at the start of the season was to finish in the top four. I’ll be very pleased when we reach that goal.
“I said to [executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward that it shall not be easy.
“Now we are in the first four, but we have six games still to play. It is not done yet but we are on our way, so I am very proud and I’m very happy for the fans.
“It means a lot for the fans, all the players and staff wanted to give a victory to the fans. If anybody deserves it, it is the fans this season.”
It was not all plain sailing for the hosts however, as the visitors started the strongest and raced ahead thanks to Sergio Aguero’s first goal since February.
Young, impressive down the left, restored parity soon after though, scooping in after Gael Clichy’s block had rebounded to him in the box.
The winger turned provider for United’s second, whipping in an inch-perfect cross to the head of the equally dominant Fellaini, who duly nodded home at the back post.
City fell apart soon after, with captain Vincent Kompany lucky to escape a red card for a reckless lunge on Daley Blind.
United extended their advantage after the interval when Juan Mata, though marginally offside, ran in behind to slide under Joe Hart.
Chris Smalling added a fourth soon after, and though Aguero did snatch a second for City late on, United were not troubled as they sealed their fourth-successive victory to end City’s four-match derby dominance in the process.
And Young, voted as the hosts’ man of the match, believes United are now showing their true quality while heaping praise upon teammate Fellaini.
“We feel we can beat anyone on our day,” he said.
“Confidence has been sky high for a long time and we want to keep the momentum going now.
“Felli has been brilliant. Everyone will say the same. Since he’s come into the team, he’s been fantastic.
“I’ve said before that very few people can handle him. On his day, he’s unplayable. I don’t think Yaya Toure wanted to be tracking back, he wanted to be at the other end of the pitch but he had that job to do on Felli.
“When Felli is in the box and you can find him, you’ve definitely got a chance of scoring.
“I saw him at the back post and hoped he’d get on the end of it and score and, thankfully, he managed to do that.”
Main image courtesy of FifaTV via YouTube, with thanks.