Louis van Gaal: Man Utd win can be 'fantastic' start to 2016

Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal intends to retire when his contract expires at Old Trafford at the end of the 2016-17 campaign

Saturday's 2-1 win over Swansea could be a "fantastic starting point" for Manchester United to build on in 2016, according to manager Louis van Gaal.

United had not won in their previous eight matches, their worst run since January 1990, prompting speculation over the Dutchman's future.

Saturday's Premier League win takes United to two points off the top four.

"It's amazing that you can perform the game plan like we have done, in a risky style, under this pressure," he said.

"I hope this is a fantastic starting point for us," he added.

Van Gaal played Ashley Young - previously deployed as a wing-back - as part of an attacking midfield against the Swans, leaving Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Chris Smalling as a three-man defence. And the manager was rewarded when Young provided an assist for Anthony Martial's second-half opener on Saturday.

Gylfi Sigurdsson levelled for Swansea, but Wayne Rooney's instinctive flick 13 minutes from time proved decisive.

Listen to 5 live commentary of Wayne Rooney's winner

MOTD's Alan Shearer on attacking United
"Against Swansea, United's link-up play was a lot better. It was positive, Anthony Martial in particular was prepared to pick up the ball and run at defenders. He and Rooney were asking questions of Swansea's defence. It was a sublime finish from Wayne Rooney for his goal."

Record-breaker Rooney

Rooney's goal was only his third in the Premier League this season, but his 238th for Manchester United, only 11 short of the club's record scorer Sir Bobby Charlton.

"Now we are playing much more matches but still it is an achievement, said Van Gaal as he reflected on Rooney's place in the club's history.

Wayne Rooney scores for Manchester United against Swansea
Rooney flicked home Anthony Martial's cross to score the match winner

"He scored a fantastic goal, with his left foot behind his right foot. You cannot imagine what a goal that is."

"A season takes eight months"

Van Gaal's United side are now nine points behind leaders Arsenal, but are still a point short of the tally that predecessor David Moyes managed at the same stage of his one season in charge.

Van Gaal said that the victory - his side's first since winning away to Watford on 21 November - should bring perspective to his critics.

"We are still near the top of the league and the gap is less. So that's football," he added.

"A season takes eight months, or something like that, and not one month. We are sitting on the bench in a more relaxed way."