The Dutch coach says his team have improved this season even with their lengthy injury list and is hopeful he can end the campaign with success in one of the cup competitions
The Red Devils have been forced to turn to youth this campaign with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Guillermo Varela all impressing in the first team.
United face a challenge to repeat last season’s fourth-placed finish and Van Gaal admits securing Champions League qualification with his current injury problems would be a fantastic achievement.
"I think this team is better than last year’s, but we don’t get the benefit of that because we have had so many injuries," Van Gaal told reporters.
"Last year, we also had a lot of injuries, but then you could say that our training schedule was maybe too heavy.
"But this year, we have only had contact injuries. There are no muscle problems, only contact injuries, so it is not our fault any more.
"This year, we have a smaller group than last year, but we have an injury list of 14 or 15 players.
"Every week we have a big problem. So to reach our aim to be in the Champions League, it would be fantastic, and it would mean my staff will have done fantastically well.
"But, of course, so have the players, because they have to adapt every week to playing alongside new team-mates."
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"Finishing in the top four is still our aim, but we are also aiming to win a trophy," he said.
"Manchester United have never won the Europa League, so it would be fantastic for our fans if we could do that.
"Winning a trophy always means more than finishing fourth in the Premier League, but qualifying for the Champions League is our aim."