Louis van Gaal says he won’t be dwelling on Manchester United’s return to the Champions League group stage ahead of a tough return to Barclays Premier League action this weekend.
The Dutchman saw captain Wayne Rooney end a 10-game, 878-minute barren spell with a superb hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Club Brugge at the Jan Breydel Stadium to secure a 7-1 aggregate win.
Rather than being distracted by the group stage draw, Van Gaal has his sights set on maintaining their unbeaten start to the season when fourth-place United face a tough encounter with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
“Of course, this was a glorious night for Manchester United and it is not so easy to do what we have done, but Swansea City is the most important match now,” said the 64-year-old.
“Last year we lost six points against them and we have to improve that.
“I think I shall watch the second team because eight players of mine play against Ajax [at Carrington] and I think that is more important because I cannot do anything to have any influence on the draw, so I will only hear it.”
After a poor start to the new season, Rooney’s timely European hat-trick in the play-off tie is a fillip for Van Gaal, who has faced criticism for failing to strengthen up front ahead of the transfer deadline on Tuesday.
Former United forward Robin van Persie is already showcasing his deadly finishing for new club Fenerbahce, while missed summer target Pedro Rodriguez made a strong impression on his Chelsea debut last weekend.
Wednesday’s victory in Belgium could have been even better if Javier Hernandez had not missed a late penalty after Rooney passed on the chance to add to his tally.
But Van Gaal believes his squad will be boosted by the comprehensive win that sees them return to the top table after a season without European competition.
He added: “Every goal shall give confidence to every player and also to Wayne, but I am very happy for him.
“He was generous to give the penalty to Chicha but I think it was a slip.
“I haven’t seen the images again yet… Wayne has the best mentality that you can imagine. Players of that level shall always come back.
“We need more victories like this. For the fourth time we kept a clean sheet and created a lot of chances.”
United are in pot two for the Champions League group stage draw, which takes place in Monaco today at 16:45 BST.
Among their possible top-seed opponents are holders Barcelona, last season’s runners-up Juventus, and German champions Bayern Munich, who defeated United at the quarter-final stage in April 2014.
Image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks.