Yet though United’s Dutch manager also talks of his side still needing more speed and creativity, the impact of his new signings on their successful pre-season U.
S. tour persuades him he now has a team that is better equipped to launch an assault on the title after finishing fourth last season.
Van Gaal, who vowed to stick to his promise to retire in 2017, cut an upbeat figure after the tour win over European champions Barcelona, suggesting that in his second year at the United helm his side could be ready for a more concerted challenge for major silverware.
“You want always more,” Van Gaal told reporters in San Jose.
“In my other teams I was already, in my first year, a champion so I hope that we can manage that in three years’ time.
“But when it is this year I am very happy. But I cannot say this year we shall be the champion. We have to fight for it. That is the most important thing. Until the end we have to challenge the number one. And maybe we are.
“I think that we have now a selection more balanced than last year. The positions are occupied double. But I think we need still more speed in front and also more creativity and that is why I want (Angel) Di Maria to stay. But we don’t know that so we have to wait and see.”
Asked if it would be difficult to secure the signing of a creative superstar, Van Gaal said: “Of course. I can give examples of champions. Bayern Munich have (Franck) Ribery and (Arjen) Robben, Chelsea have (Eden) Hazard and Willian, speed and creativity.
“Real Madrid have (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Gareth) Bale. Manchester United fans want us to compete with these teams. Barcelona have Neymar and (Lionel) Messi.
“(Ashley) Young has made a fantastic season. (Juan) Mata the same, with assists and goals but to win the Champions League we need speed also.”
United, who have won all their three matches in America, end their tour on Wednesday against Paris St Germain in Chicago.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)