Louis van Gaal stood his ground on Sunday night amid growing speculation his time as Manchester United manager will be ended early.
Jose Mourinho continues to be linked with the Dutchman’s job, but in the wake of the 1-1 draw at Chelsea which did little to boost his side’s top-four hopes, Van Gaal hit out. He claimed United have no need to deny the reports of his likely early exit, and called his team’s display “sparkling”.
“You have spoken with (United’s executive vice-chairman) Ed Woodward?” asked Van Gaal. “Why do they have to deny? I don’t interfere neither (sic). Why do the club have to deny it when you are creating stories. Okay, okay, so you haven’t spoken to Ed Woodward or the Glazers, so you are inventing this story. I don’t have to answer this question.”
Addressing a reporter, he said: “You are getting the sack tomorrow. What is your name? Then I can announce the name also. (You can) look at your wife, or maybe you have children, or a nephew or something like that.
“We have to do better. We have to improve in that way. But I’m happy with the performance. It was not a ‘boring’ match, so for the third time in a row it was sparkling. So I also hope to get the support of the media this week.”
Van Gaal has regularly been criticised over United’s tactics, but there was little wrong with the display in west London.
United took the lead early in the second half through a fine finish from Jesse Lingard, but as Chelsea responded with increased pressure they secured a deserved equalising goal in added time with Diego Costa’s shot from close range.
Upon his appointment in December, Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink was confident his team remained capable of reaching the top four. But with 13 league fixtures to play they are 17 points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and suffered the further blow of defender Kurt Zouma being removed on a stretcher with what appeared a serious knee injury.
Hiddink said: “The rest of the season is hopefully too much (for Zouma to be ruled out for), but he will have an examination, so I can’t speculate about that. It’s very bad, when you land with a hyper-extended knee.”
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Former Manchester United star Mikael Silvestre believes Jose Mourinho is a “good contender” to replace Louis van Gaal as Old Trafford boss.
The Special One has been heavily linked with the Red Devils’ managerial hotseat if the club decide to end Van Gaal’s tenure following a difficult season.
And Silvestre, who won five Premier League titles and a Champions League during his nine-year spell in Manchester, reckons the Portuguese coach could takeover at United in the future. “Of course, I think he could be a good contender for the next job but right now Van Gaal is still in charge,” the 38-year-old said during his special guest appearance at National School League (NSL) Finals Day. The French star also believes former team-mate and current assistant manager Ryan Giggs could step up and become manager in the future.
And Silvestre, who won five Premier League titles and a Champions League during his nine-year spell in Manchester, reckons the Portuguese coach could takeover at United in the future.
“Of course, I think he could be a good contender for the next job but right now Van Gaal is still in charge,” the 38-year-old said during his special guest appearance at National School League (NSL) Finals Day.
The French star also believes former team-mate and current assistant manager Ryan Giggs could step up and become manager in the future.
Louis van Gaal admits he is losing the battle to convince Manchester United fans he is the right man to drag the club out of their worrying predicament.
A poisonous atmosphere took hold at Old Trafford on Saturday after Van Gaal’s side slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Southampton.
As soon as Charlie Austin nodded in his 87th-minute winner, some United fans started hurling abuse at Van Gaal in the home dugout. Despite the best efforts of the Old Trafford PA system, boos reverberated around the stadium following the final whistle and the Dutchman was targeted by fans in the Stretford End and South Stand as he headed down the tunnel.
It was not an enjoyable experience for the United manager or executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who fixed his eyes on Van Gaal from the directors’ box after the final whistle.
There was no immediate indication from the United hierarchy that Van Gaal would lose his job. Woodward has invested a lot in the 64-year-old and has been fiercely determined to see him succeed. Van Gaal refused to say whether he would resign in a post-match briefing.
“This question, I shall never answer to you,” the United manager snapped.
The main question facing Woodward is: how long can this continue? Van Gaal’s claim that United were back in the title race following their 1-0 win over Liverpool last week now seems fanciful.
They are now five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the Barclays Premier League standings with 15 matches left. But it is not so much the results that are the issue for United fans – it is the team’s performances.
Van Gaal accepts he is failing to deliver attractive football and convince the fans he is turning things around.
“I’m very disappointed that I cannot reach the expectations of the fans,” the United manager said. “They have – or they had – great expectations of me, and I cannot fulfil them, so I am very frustrated because of that.”
There was no objection from Van Gaal to the jeering that came his way as he trudged down the touchline with clipboard in hand.
“I agree with them, so it doesn’t have any impact (on me),” he said. “They have also knowledge of football, of entertaining football, and you have to play football to entertain the fans. (On Saturday), I don’t think we have entertained the fans, so they can be very angry.”
David Gill, whom Woodward replaced after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, admitted the team were “under-achieving” this season and that the style of play under Van Gaal was not easy on the eye.
“I am not going to sit here and say it is that attractive,” the United director told Radio Five’s Sportsweek programme.
And there was even dissent in the ranks from the MUTV studios at Old Trafford. Pundits sometimes try their best to gloss over the negatives, but Bojan Djordjic could not contain himself following the final whistle on Saturday.
“For so many weeks, the fans are clapping him off and it just grows, the frustration, and this was the final straw,” the former United midfielder said. “The only corner we are turning is into some dark alley where we get robbed again.”
Van Gaal suggested bad luck, particularly with injuries, and the opposition’s tendency to defend in numbers at Old Trafford, were the main reasons behind the current slump in form.
“There are different aspects. We are not very lucky with our injuries, that’s a problem,” said Van Gaal, who watched Matteo Darmian hobble off in the second half holding his chest after an aerial collision with Shane Long.
“Now we are missing five full-backs. But nevertheless, we had to win, and we could have won, but it is not happening. You have seen two teams who were very busy with tactics, but they don’t create many chances, and that’s why it was a poor match.”