London: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal feels that his team is unlikely to secure a top four finish in the English Premier League (EPL) this season after Saturday's loss to relegation threatened Sunderland.
Manchester United lost 1-2 in the away tie at the Stadium of Light which left them rooted to the fifth spot, six points behind fourth placed Manchester City.
Wahbi Khazri had put the hosts ahead after just three minutes before Anthony Martial equalised for United. But a late header from Lamine Kone sealed the full three points for Sunderland.
"I have told the players the top four will be very difficult now. You cannot close your eyes to that. It's still possible but very difficult. We needed the points so much, everybody is very sad," van Gaal told the British media on Saturday.
"It will be very difficult now. We give five points away, Chelsea and now this game so it is too much at this time.
"I think what I said before the game, you have to win these kind of games and we didn't and we can only blame ourselves," he added.
The 64-year-old Dutchman admitted the Sunderland players displayed more aggression, which allowed them to control most of the game.
"Two goals from two set-pieces. They had more aggression than us and we could not cope with that aggression and we don't keep the ball in our possession. You have to win this type of game but we could not cope with Sunderland's aggression and set pieces. We didn't deliver and we feel disappointed and we feel sad. But we are working together," van Gaal said.
"I think as Manchester United, you have to keep the ball in spite of the pressure of Sunderland. You have to keep the ball and you have to create chances. We didn't have control. We didn't have control in the first 20 minutes. In the second 20 minutes, we had that control and we scored," he added.
"But the most disappointing thing for me is that we couldn't cope with the aggressive pressure of Sunderland in their own half. (IANS)