By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Louis van Gaal has stunned Manchester United supporters with his assessment of the team’s performance in 2015.

Looking back on the calendar year at his media conference on Thursday afternoon, the under-fire United manager claimed it has been “a very good year” for the club.

Van Gaal claimed United reached their objective of qualifying for this season’s Champions League in the first half of 2015 and, despite limping out of Europe’s top competition, he is convinced they are well placed to challenge for this season’s Premier League title.

This assessment comes as United prepare for Saturday’s Premier League clash against bogey team Swansea at Old Trafford on the back of a disastrous December.

United have slumped to sixth in the Premier League after an eight-match winless sequence that included four consecutive defeats.

But Van Gaal is upbeat. “We have fulfilled the wish and our aim in the first season that ended halfway through 2015,” he said on Thursday. “After that we have managed to give balance to the team and that resulted in October and November in us being first in the Premier League.

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“Then we are out of the Champions League and that gives us a big blow, and we are still in that period, so when you don’t assess December, it was a very good year.”

Van Gaal also enthused about United’s performance on Monday, when they were held to a goal-less draw at Old Trafford by struggling Chelsea.

He said: “We’ve had many games like that. The way we’re playing, we’re almost always the dominant team.

“The way we played, under that pressure and in the style we want to play, was fantastic.”