Louis van Gaal insists Manchester United will challenge for the title next year if they ensure a successful pre-season of improvement and preparation.

The Dutch manager says United’s board have given him a three-year remit to win the Premier League and believes had they not suffered a poor start to the current campaign, they would already by rivalling Chelsea for the trophy.

“The board have given three years for that objective. This year we have not challenged but we are very close to the second position,” Van Gaal said.

“We started badly this year but if you cut the start of it we should equalise Chelsea. So we have to start next season better.

“Next year definitely we will challenge. We will have another squad but not only us – Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and all the clubs fighting for those positions will too.

“There is not a big gap between the rest of the top clubs and Chelsea. You can judge that when the clubs play against each other. We need balance in our selection and I’ve said that many times.”

Van Gaal felt United’s busy pre-season schedule last season disrupted their preparations but says they have planned this year’s schedule to his specifications when they return to the east coast of the United States east coast.  

“We have adapted to a better preparation," Van Gaal added.

"We shall have two base camps in the United States so we are not flying, we are going by bus, which is better.

“The temperature shall be lower because we will be on the other coast.”