LONDON: Louis van Gaal has declared that Manchester United are "too big" a club to go 26 years without winning a league title - a period of time Liverpool will reach if they are not crowned champions this season.
United, of course, went exactly the same number of years - between 1967 and 1993 - before Sir Alex Ferguson won the first of his 13 league titles (over, by coincidence, a 26-year managerial career at the club) but the landscape of football has changed dramatically since then.
Van Gaal admitted that United - and Liverpool - had underperformed this season ahead of tomorrow's crucial meeting of the sides at Anfield, which could prove hugely significant in defining the Dutch manager's future at his club.
It will also provide clear evidence as to whether Jurgen Klopp can achieve a top-four finish with Liverpool.
Although United's 3-3 draw away to Newcastle United on Tuesday was highly entertaining it was also, at times, shambolic and means Van Gaal has won just one of eight league matches. Another defeat would send United back into crisis as it would follow recent losses against Norwich City and Stoke City which led to Van Gaal considering his position amid mounting pressure.
Reminded that Liverpool had not won the league since 1990, and whether he could envisage United, three years after they were last champions, entering a similar barren spell again, Van Gaal said: "I am part of the transition so I cannot imagine that shall happen with Manchester United. I cannot imagine. But as you say, when it is happening to Liverpool it can happen also to Manchester United but I cannot imagine that because we are in transition and we are going in the right way.
"But maybe it shall take a longer time [than I think]. But I cannot imagine it will be the same for Manchester United. It [United] is too big, too organised and we have an infrastructure and we are improving that every year."
That final point is arguable. There is no great desire to sack Van Gaal from the United hierarchy but his position has been difficult to defend at times and that will come again should Liverpool win tomorrow and if there is an increased fear that the manager cannot finish in the top four and deliver Champions League football next season.
"I think it's much more difficult to win the Premier League than 10 years ago," Van Gaal argued. "The difference between Liverpool and Manchester United and the rest of the league was bigger than now. So the level is higher and the difference between the clubs is a smaller gap.
"That's why I say it's more difficult to win and, of course, you can then still say that we have underperformed because Manchester United has to be in the first three in the Premier League and the same thing counts for Liverpool, I think."
Van Gaal qualified his answer by stating that "you have to be in the top three at the end of the season and not in this moment", before adding: "It is better to be first, I agree with that, but we are still, in the three [sic] years that I am here, we are in transition, and that's maybe also the reason.
"But still I have to say we have to be fighting for the first position and now we are not fighting for the first position when we don't win against Newcastle United in that circumstance.
"You can lose against Newcastle United, that is not the problem, but when you are in that circumstance that you have to play five minutes and you are 3-2 ahead you have to control that game.
"For example, Chelsea from last year did that. They won with one-goal difference and finished the game. A champion has to be able do that."
Van Gaal will be encouraged by his own impressive record against Liverpool, having won his three league games so far, and by Wayne Rooney's return to goalscoring with four goals in three matches.
"It makes it more easy because I have put all my money on Wayne as a striker," Van Gaal said while confirming that Michael Carrick was out injured and that he was unlikely to risk Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is not fully fit.