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WE'D NEED A MIRACLE TO WIN THE TITLE; SUNDERLAND v MAN UTD Crunch time already for new boss; One game, one defeat and Van Gaal's almost given up.

Byline: Tom HOPKINSON REPORTS

LOUIS VAN GAAL admits it will be a miracle if Manchester United win the Premier League this season.

But as his time in charge of Bayern Munich proved, miracles CAN happen.

The Dutchman knows he has a major rebuilding job on his hands at Old Trafford and that there will be no overnight fix to the problems he has inherited from David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson.

However, he is unwilling to write this season off as one of transition and insists he will do everything in his power to make sure his side are top-flight contenders come the final reckoning.

Van Gaal said: "It is always the case that managers should be judged in the second season. It is very difficult to win the title in your first season.

"Nevertheless, what I have experienced is that I was champion in Barcelona and also in Germany [in my first seasons], so it is possible.

"It was especially possible when I took over the job of Bobby Robson in Barcelona. He had won three titles so the selection of players was stable at that time.

"When I got to Bayern Munich the selection was not stable, so that was a miracle what we did there.

"And now, this selection is not balanced. We have five No.9s, six No.10s and so on... and we don't have defenders."

Asked if it would be a miracle to win the league this season with United, he added: "I think it would be but it is also possible. It is always possible but it will be very difficult."

Despite an excellent pre-season, Van Gaal's reign got off to a disappointing start with a 2-1 home defeat by Swansea last Saturday and he is desperately hoping for a better showing, and result, when his side take on Sunderland today.

He knows that will not be easy, though, given the fact that all but one of Gus Poyet's squad had the whole summer off and had time to prepare for the new season, while 16 of his players were on World Cup duty and are still not fully up to speed. Van Gaal said: "All the players who played at the World Cup are starting in the league without having a big rest.

"For example, I gave Robin van Persie three weeks' rest and I let him train for three weeks, so he is more prepared than the players I had in the United States because, within one week of coming back from their holidays, they had to play 45 minutes.

"You have seen all the injuries. And I am a manager that is always thinking about the long term so I am not taking any risks with Van Persie. When we have 16 players at the World Cup and Sunderland only have one, they have full preparation with the whole squad and that is better than I had.

"I started on July 7, I was not there as I was at the World Cup, but my assistants were here and then I came here and half of the players were on holiday.

"The next week a couple more players came and the last was Van Persie. That's not good preparation. Then we also had the trip to the USA - but it is no excuse."

Excuses are certainly not something Van Gaal is looking for, although he has asked United fans not to judge him and his players on the first three months of the season as everyone gets used to his methods.

That is something he says United's owners, the Glazer family, and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward have agreed to - had they not, he would never have accepted their offer in the first place.

Van Gaal added: "They understand or I would not have accepted this job. I have discussed everything, long discussions where I have shown myself, as I am always open.

"That is why we discussed three years, not one year. And what are the consequences when you are hiring me? I have told them.

"My experience in my former clubs was always that the start was difficult. I give a lot of information and I load the brain a lot. The players have to adapt to that situation. That is not so easy.

"Then you can say to me, maybe a little less information, but that is not possible because then we have to change the way of playing football and the way of transferring my methods.

"That is not only in team meetings, that is also on the pitch every day and when I give an exercise it is always with a tactical purpose, so they have to think a lot."

What we did at Bayern was a miracle ... here at United we have five No.9s, six No.10s and no defenders

CAPTION(S):

WHEELS COMING OFF THE VAN The new Manchester United boss will be hoping to put his team's nightmare start behind him today - but he's just about written off their Premier League hopes
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Aug 24, 2014
Words:840
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