10 things Man Uniteda��s Louis van Gaal must fix before next season

Manchester Uniteda��s target for this season is the top four and the Champions League place that brings.
Despite some miserable football, Louis van Gaal currently has his side in fourth and on track. With a run-in that includes the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool the Dutchman’s first term will be defined by what happens between now and May 24.

Sportsmail looks at what Van Gaal needs to do to ensure it is mission accomplished at Old Trafford.

Keep Wayne Rooney up front

Van Gaal recently bemoaned his lack of a 20-goals-a-season striker. He already has one, he has just not played him in the right position for long chunks of the campaign.

It is no surprise that Rooneya��s return to a striking role has coincided with more goals from the England man who averages more than the 20 Van Gaal craves in a red shirt.

Trust Ander Herrera

For long periods United fans have wondered what the Spaniard has done to upset his manager.

Is it because he was a David Moyes target? Does it have something to do with the match-fixing trial? Had he run over Van Gaala��s cat?

When called upon Herrera has been the kind of combative box-to-box midfielder they have been crying out for at Old Trafford for the best part of a decade. He deserves more minutes.

Improve away form

Manchester United have won only three away matches in the league this season and they were fortunate in two of those (at Arsenal and Southampton).

This is not good enough and will need to be improved considerably between now and May 24 if they are to finish in the top four.

Revitalise Di Maria

The wasteful, timid and ineffective shell we are currently seeing in the No 7 shirt is not the real Angel di Maria.The Argentina playmaker was named Champions League final man of the match last May. He is not injured and he has not been stripped of his considerable talents.

Put simply, his head is not in the right place. Van Gaal, a proven master of mind games, needs to fix this. A revitalised Di Maria can drive United over the finishing line.

Get in the technical area

Van Gaal prefers to take in the action from the elevated dugout at Old Trafford, analysing and making notes. It is rare that you see him in the technical area urging his troops on. This may not be his style, but a trip down the steps every now and again and a presence at the side of the pitch may not just lift his players, it may also have the desired effect on the Stretford End.

Square pegs, square holes

It sounds ridiculously simple, but if Van Gaal plays players in the right positions then United will instantly look more fluent and comfortable.

The Dutchman has had a tendency of overthinking things this season and it has often led to disjointed displays.While the squad still needs strengthening he does have the tools at his disposal to cruise into fourth place. He needs to settle on a system that promotes a higher tempo and stick with it.

Demand more

Great managers defend their players in public and berate them in private if they have to.

Van Gaal, speaking before Wednesdaya��s trip to Newcastle, said that new players need a year to settle. Nonsense. The best players hit the ground running.

Has Diego Costa needed 12 months to bed in at Chelsea? It is to be hoped he says something different in the dressing room.

Dona��t play RVP and Falcao together

If any semblance of the goalscoring machine that dominated Europe before his cruciate injury remains, Van Gaal needs to find it quickly.

The manager has to wipe the slate clean and tell the Colombian his season starts now. Van Gaal is regarded as one of the greatest in the world.

Eking some form out of Falcao could go down as one of his finest achievements but he cannot pair him with Van Persie.

Both lack pace to trouble League One defences, let alone Premier League backlines.

Chill out

It was funny and he had a point, but bringing diagrams into his press conference to illustrate that United were not a long-ball team was borderline Mike Bassett.

In his first year in England Van Gaal has had a habit of trying to pick fights that are not there, especially with the press. He needs to relax and realise that not everyone is against him. There will be pressure between now and the end of the season and he has to deal with it with smiles rather than snarls.

Beat Newcastle United

With a run-in that includes Arsenal, Tottenham, City, Liverpool and Chelsea it is imperative that United return home from St Jamesa�� Park with three points.

They also need to take maximum returns from games against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Hull City. - Sportsmail