Louis van Gaal close to picking his ideal Man Utd team

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has won 16 and lost five of his 30 games in charge of United

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal says he is close to being able to pick his preferred side for the first time this season.

Michael Carrick is the only absentee for United's trip to Swansea on Saturday.

Van Gaal said: "In the first four months I have only been able to select the fit players and, as you know, we have always had 10 or 11 injuries.

"Now, in the last few months we have only one or two players injured, so that is a big difference."

Van Gaal was appointed in May and took over following the World Cup campaign as Netherlands boss last summer.

United lost 2-1 at home to Swansea on the opening day of the season and won only one of their first five Premier League games.

But they have been beaten only once since early November to climb to third place in the table and the Dutchman expects mid-table Swansea to face a different test at the Liberty Stadium.

Changing faces - the Man Utd team beaten by Swansea on the opening day of the season:
De Gea, Blackett, Smalling, Jones, Lingard (Januzaj), Fletcher, Young, Herrera (Fellaini), Rooney, Hernandez (Nani), Mata. Subs: Kagawa, Keane, James, Amos
Changing faces - the Man Utd squad to face Swansea in the return at the Liberty Stadium:
De Gea, Valdes, Shaw, Blackett, Rojo, Smalling, Evans, Jones, McNair, Rafael, Pereira, Young, Blind, Fellaini, Herrera, Valencia, Januzaj, Di Maria, Mata, Falcao, Rooney, Van Persie, Wilson.

Van Gaal added: "We shouldn't forget a lot of my players in the first match were not there. Marcos Rojo wasn't there, Daley Blind was not there, Angel Di Maria was not there, Luke Shaw was not playing.

"A lot of players didn't play so when I see the line-up against Swansea there are a lot of differences - it's another match."

Here is the best of Van Gaal's news conference:

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick
Michael Carrick has missed Manchester United's last five games with a calf injury

On losing to Swansea in his first game

"We came from the United States where we had won everything, so that was a big shock at that moment.

"After that we lost a lot of points even though we were the better team, because we couldn't score enough at that time.

"So, I think that match has a big influence on the first matches we had. Now I believe that every player knows the philosophy of me and my staff.

"Everyone wants to follow that philosophy and you can see that in the team spirit of the team which is unbelievable.

"When you see the score of the last 19 or 20 matches we are the best team in the league."

Form guide to the last 20 Premier League games (Opta)
2Manchester City20135243202344
3Man United20126234161842
7Tottenham 2011363228436
8West Ham 208752720731
9Newcastle U208572626029
10Stoke City208482428-428
11Swansea 206772027-725
13C Palace205781925-622
14West Brom205692127-621
18Hull City2045111627-1117
19Aston Villa202612830-2212
20Leicester 2023151332-199

On how United are performing

"I am never 100% happy with the team form, a perfect match you can never play.

"We can play better than we show now, but the main thing is to win your match, not to lose.

"The most important thing is the spirit of the team and we have shown this year a lot of times team spirit and that is very attractive for the fans, but also for the coach, because then you can see a player wants to follow you."