Defence should be United's priority, says Stam

Jaap Stam believes Louis van Gaal must concentrate on improving Manchester United's defence if they want to close the gap on Chelsea.

Manchester United need a settled back four if they are to challenge for the Premier League title next season, according to Jaap Stam.

Injuries throughout the season have ensured Louis van Gaal has struggled to keep a consistent back four, with youngsters Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair both called upon and Michael Carrick used at centre-back.

Stam – who was part of a solid United backline during his spell at the club – believes his former team will find it difficult to close the gap on champions Chelsea next season if they do not recruit.

"It's very important to have a settled back four," he told United's official website. "Especially at United, when you're playing against other quality teams in Europe and in the Premier League – you need a defence with players that can be used alongside each other. 

"They need to know what to do in certain situations so that without thinking, certain things happen and the players are helping each other.

"I've read and seen a couple of times that the manager is perhaps struggling to find the ideal situation in terms of a back four that can perform for a couple of seasons in a row, but the defenders are still very young and that's something you need to think about.

"They've brought in some experienced, high-quality players but still have a young defence that I think needs to work together for a certain period to get maximum results.

"That's how it goes in every team, if you’re building, you need time to get results."