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says United still 'ahead' of Spurs

LONDON (Reuters) Louis van Gaal had Manchester United fans scratching their heads with a baffling halftime substitution then suggested his lacklustre side are still "ahead" of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday despite a crushing 3 0 defeat.

The Dutchman, who has been under incessant pressure this season, took off young striker Marcus Rashford and played winger Ashley Young as a centre forward in the second half at White Hart Lane.

United had restricted Tottenham before the break without offering much goal threat, but rather than switch the van cleef necklace imitation lively Anthony Martial to a central role, he left the Frenchman wide and played Young out of position.

Young barely got a kick and Tottenham scored three goals in six minutes through Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela to keep their Premier League title hopes alive and leave United struggling to finish in the top four.

"It was more or less equal before the goal," Van Gaal, whose side are fifth, four points behind fourth placed Manchester City, told reporters before being asked to explain the substitution that had United fans ranting on social media.

"I want more runnings in behind because I think we have chances to do that because they are like us, an attacking side with full backs coming up.

"Ashley Young has done that very good in the second team and Marcus did not have his best match today and that's why I change it."

Van Gaal has managed to keep his critics at bay in recent weeks with his widely admired policy of blooding young players and the possibility of a top four finish.

But he bristled when it was suggested that he might regret having chosen to join United rather Tottenham two years ago.

In that time Tottenham have developed into title contenders under Mauricio Pochettino while United are labouring under a style of football that saw them manage only one shot on target in north London on Sunday.

Tottenham are now 12 points ahead of United who suffered a first league defeat at White Hart Lane since 2001.

"I think that in the balance we are still ahead," said former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Van Gaal, whose day began badly when the United team coach was stuck in traffic forcing a 30 minute delay to kickoff.

"It is a little bit pathetic you asked that (whether he regretted his choice) copy van cleef & arpels necklace because they have won 3 0. It's easy to ask that but ok, you enjoy yourself.

"The challenge was bigger for me at Manchester United and shall always be bigger. I'm sorry for Tottenham but Manchester United is a bigger club."

Van Gaal still believes his side can finish in the top four though and qualify for next season's Champions League.

"Can we finish fourth? Yes, because we have 18 points available so van cleef and arpels alhambra necklace fake we still have a chance, but it's more difficult than before the match that's for sure," he said.

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