United manager Louis van Gaal praised his players for their determination and effort in Sunday’s Manchester derby, but admits the match showed there is still room for improvement.
The Reds, who went down to ten men just before half-time when Chris Smalling was sent off, narrowly lost out in the 168th derby meeting, with Sergio Aguero’s 63rd-minute striker proving the difference.
“I said to the boys their willpower and labour were unbelievable and they can be very proud,” said van Gaal.
“The fans know the boys are willing to give everything for the shirt of the club. But at the end of the game, we have zero points. In this sport, it is always the goals that count.
“We were so close in spite of playing with ten men. We had more chances [with ten men] than in the first half. We are close but not close enough.
“We have 13 points out of 10 matches and Chelsea have a lot more, as do Manchester City so we have a problem. We need to improve and prove that we are not close but better. We will improve, that I promise.”
On Smalling’s dismissal, following an obstruction of Joe Hart and a late tackle on James Milner, van Gaal added: “I didn’t see the first yellow, but as a player if you know you have a yellow card you have to deal with that problem. I don’t think he dealt with it very smartly