Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has said it would be a "dream" to add a Manchester derby win to his long list of football achievements, saying his side's recent poor run of results in the fixture was of no great concern to him.
United have lost their last four matches against bitter rivals Manchester City ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford, and have never in their history lost five in a row.
However, Van Gaal believes that because three of those defeats pre-date his arrival at United they become less relevant to his cause.
City beat United in their most recent meeting at Eastlands in November thanks to Sergio Aguero's goal, while the visitors played the majority of that game a man down following Chris Smalling's red card.
"Of course I dream of it," former Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Netherlands boss van Gaal said Friday of the prospect of beating City.
"Every player shall dream of the victory.
"The run of four games? It’s not my story. What can I say? We have lost 1-0 – that’s my history. One-nil and we have also a red card," the Dutchman added.
"What I say always in such games, always you have to control your aggression. And we didn't do that at that time. So I hope we have learned from that moment."
Van Gaal believes that a victory over reigning champions City would help cement United's third place in the Premier League, with the Red Devils currently a point in front of their local rivals, and avoid the need to go through a Champions League play-off next season.
"You want to win because it’s a big step in the table also,” the 63-year-old United manager said.
"When you win, the third place is reachable and a month ago no-one was thinking about that – besides me of course!
"Then the third position is also good because you are certainly qualified for the Champions League.”
The derby is unlikely to feature any players born in Manchester, although van Gaal played down the significance of the statistic, saying the game would lack nothing of its traditional intensity as a result.
"I think at this moment, in our football world, I don't think it’s an obligation to play always with a player who is out of the youth education.
"When you see it internationally we are not at the exception. I know also a match between derby teams of the same city is always very special. I am always confident, because I always believe in my team."
United striker Robin van Persie will miss the game as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury, while left-back Luke Shaw will be absent with a hamstring problem.
United centre-back Smalling is expected to be available after he missed the win over Aston Villa through illness.
Van Gaal added: "Most of the players are fit. But fit for me is a different situation so I don’t think every player is fit.
"For example, Robin van Persie is not fit enough to play. I don’t think Luke Shaw is fit enough to play.
"I cannot say they are not fit, but in my opinion they are not fit to play. Fit to play, match rhythm that’s very different.”
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