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Top four finish very difficult now, says Van Gaal

Football Soccer - Sunderland v Manchester United - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light - 13/2/16 Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal before the match Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic
Football Soccer - Sunderland v Manchester United - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light - 13/2/16Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal before the matchReuters / Phil NobleLivepic

(Reuters) - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admitted it would be very hard to finish in the top four after his team's insipid 2-1 loss at Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.

The experienced Dutchman, who is under great pressure to retain his position in the Old Trafford hot seat, cut a disconsolate figure after the game at the Stadium of Light.

"It will be very difficult to make the top four," Van Gaal told BT Sport. "It is too much at this time."

United are six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with 12 games left and speculation is mounting that former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is poised to replace Van Gaal.

"You have to win these kind of games and we didn't win," Van Gaal said. "We can only blame ourselves. Two set-plays and two goals."

United fell behind after three minutes when Tunisian Wahbi Khazri's speculative free kick from out side drifted into the far corner of David de Gea's net and the Spanish keeper diverted Lamine Kone's late header over his own line.

"Sunderland had more aggression than ourselves and we did not cope with that well," said Van Gaal who refused to comment on his future.

"I have to do my work," he said. "I do my work to my utmost and I cannot do more."

United face Danish side FC Midtjylland in the Europa League last-32 first leg on Thursday before a trip to third tier Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup fifth round.

Van Gaal's problems mounted when Italian right back Matteo Darmian suffered a dislocated shoulder against Sunderland and the Dutchman was forced to send on 21-year-old Donald Love for his debut.

"He (Darmian) will be out for several weeks," Van Gaal said.

(Reporting by Ed Osmond, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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