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Van Gaal unfazed by Guardiola's Premier League desire

By Paul Hirst

Published 09/01/2016

Staying focused: Louis van Gaal insists he isn’t feeling the shadow of Pep Guardiola hanging over Old Trafford
Staying focused: Louis van Gaal insists he isn’t feeling the shadow of Pep Guardiola hanging over Old Trafford

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal insists he does not feel threatened by Pep Guardiola's declaration that he is bound for the Premier League.

Guardiola announced on Tuesday that his aim is to move to England when he leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

Manchester City are the bookmakers' favourites to appoint Guardiola, but United have been mentioned as a possible destination for the highly-regarded former Barcelona manager.

Van Gaal insists Guardiola's announcement does not put any extra pressure on his shoulders, however, as he thinks he is secure in his job despite United's recent poor form.

"Every manager has that right to announce (he is leaving),'' said the United manager, who has won just once in nine games.

"I'm at the end of my career so for me (Guardiola's declaration) is not so interesting. For me, what is interesting is how I take care of Manchester United in my contract and after this season I still have one year to go.''

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger criticised Guardiola for the timing of his announcement, but Van Gaal has no problem with it as he did a similar thing when he declared he wanted to leave the Holland job for the Premier League in 2014.

"I said that two years ago so it's not so strange,'' he said. "Managers have ambitions and Pep Guardiola has that ambition too and he wants to sniff the culture of England and the Premier League and I wanted that also."

It was the availability of another successful manager, Jose Mourinho, that prompted speculation Van Gaal would be sacked during a barren run of eight matches without a win towards the end of last year.

Van Gaal arrested that slump with victory over Swansea last weekend, but the Dutchman does not believe that necessarily means his team have turned a corner.

"I don't agree with your analysis,'' Van Gaal said when it was put to him that the quality of United's displays had improved recently.

"We are always playing attacking football, only we have scored (against Swansea), that's the big difference. We have still to see if it gives me confidence because one swallow doesn't make a summer. I hope so."

The pressure will be back on Van Gaal if United are knocked out of the FA Cup by League One side Sheffield United today.

Adnan Januzaj will not be available for the third-round tie at Old Trafford even though he was recalled from his unsuccessful loan spell at Borussia Dortmund.

The Belgian is regarded as one of the best young players at Old Trafford, but did not start a league match for Dortmund during his five-month spell in Germany.

Van Gaal will give the 20-year-old another opportunity to impress, but he will have to turn out in a couple of Under-21 games first.

"I believe in the talent of Adnan Januzaj," Van Gaal said. "I said (in August) it would be very difficult to play matches in Dortmund and unfortunately I was right.

"He has trained already this morning. But he has to show his fitness in the second team.

Van Gaal confirmed Phil Jones is out of today's tie because of an ankle injury, but Jesse Lingard has recovered from his injury.

Belfast Telegraph

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