Van Gaal: Manchester United are missing the Champions League

The Dutchman feels that his side's absence from the tournament is having a detrimental effect and says that he was "stupid" to suggest that they would gel within three months
Louis van Gaal feels that Manchester United are missing the regular tests provided by the Champions League.

David Moyes's tumultuous reign at Old Trafford last season was ended by the club's hierarchy as soon as it was confirmed that United were mathematically incapable of qualifying for Europe's top competition.

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And Van Gaal now believes that the Red Devils' unusual absence from the tournament is having a detrimental effect on his young players as he wants them to be playing against "better opponents".

"I had a philosophy when I was a technical director of the Dutch Football Federation, I gave structure to the youth education, that the younger players have to play against the better players," he told reporters.

"Then you get development of your players because they are playing better opponents. The chance is better for the players then, especially the youngsters. I think, when you are in the Champions League and it's going well and you beat opponents, you're getting in a flow and then it's not so bad to play all the matches.

"Maybe in my first year here I will have more chances to train with my players. That's probably better than all the matches, maybe, but at the end of this it's always better to play in the Champions League and all the cups and play all the matches, because you can compare yourself with higher-level opponents."

Upon his appointment, Van Gaal had claimed that it would take "three months" for United to click, a time period which has now elapsed, with the club sixth in the Premier League following two defeats this season, and the Dutchman admits that he regrets making such a prediction.

"It was very stupid to say three months because then the media are only talking about three months," he added.

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