Manchester United News: Louis Van Gaal 'Sad' As United's UEFA Champions League Hopes Recede

Manchester United's David De Gea scores the own goal that handed Sunderland victory
David De Gea of Manchester United at the Stadium of Light, February 13. De Gea scored the own goal that led to defeat and a waning of United's Champions League hopes. Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal admitted the whole club was "sad" after defeat against Sunderland at the weekend damaged its UEFA Champions League hopes.

United went behind early on at the Stadium of Light but recovered to equalize through Anthony Martial, only to lose the game late on with a David De Gea own goal.

Afterwards, Van Gaal said it would now be very difficult for United, six points off the final Champions League place, to qualify for the competition next season.

"I have told the players the top four will be very difficult now," Van Gaal said.

"You cannot close your eyes to that. It's still possible but very difficult. We needed the points so much, everybody is very sad."

A report in The Sun on Monday morning claimed United was ready to appoint former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as its new boss this month, though Van Gaal has another season remaining on his three-year contract.

Van Gaal's admission that the top four is now almost out of reach, even with 12 games remaining and 36 points to play for, will have done little to increase the confidence at Old Trafford that he is the man to take United on next season.

In that case, his best route to top-level European football next season may be the Europa League. Winning the competition carries with it the prize of a Champions League place. United plays FC Midtjylland of Denmark in the first leg of the last 32 on Thursday.