Louis van Gaal has told his predecessor Alex Ferguson he is still far from happy with Manchester United’s performances despite an impressive run that has catapulted them into the Premier League top three.
At least the United manager looks set to have record signing Angel di Maria available for the busy holiday schedule of games after his recovery from a hamstring tear.
But, despite visiting Aston Villa at the weekend with six consecutive victories behind him, van Gaal insists he is still waiting for his team to put together the “perfect” performance.
“I’m not only focused on results although of course that is the main, important thing,” he said on Friday. “When I speak with Sir Alex, he says, ‘No problem, you have won!’
“But for me, it is is also the performance that is very important because when you perform well, you shall win more.
“That’s what I want to show the fans, the players want to show the fans. The guarantee of wins is much bigger when you perform better.
“For example, the game against Hull City was a good game because we dominated for 90 minutes. I want to see more games like that.
“Now there are too few games that we are dominating for 90 minutes. Of course, when you win six times in a row, confidence is rising, but I’m still looking for a game that is more close to the perfect game.”
Di Maria, who suffered a slight hamstring tear in the 3-0 victory against Hull three games ago, has made a speedy recovery from the injury although van Gaal wants him to regain match fitness before throwing the £59.7 million forward back into first team action.
“He trained with us this week so it now depends on how he compares with other players,” said van Gaal.
“He is not match fit after one week so he has to follow a procedure. It was the same with (Robin) van Persie or (Radamel) Falcao, it’s a procedure.”
Falcao is still far from convincing his manager that he has found his full match fitness. The Colombian forward, who is on a season-long loan at Old Trafford, has not started a game since the first week in October and has scored just one goal in three starts all season.
His lack of fitness has led to speculation that his stay at United will not be permanent and van Gaal admits that it has been impossible to make a decision so far.
“He didn’t play so much then you cannot see too much of a player and he didn’t train so much because he was a lot of time he has been injured, so first you have to be fit,” said van Gaal.
“I have said that three weeks or a month ago, the first demand is fitness of a player. And okay, we wait for the fitness of a player. Now he shows fitness on the training sessions so maybe I shall select him, maybe for the bench or the line up.”