Defiant Van Gaal won't walk away from Manchester United
As Louis van Gaal spoke of wanting to "continue to the end" at Manchester United following another week when his job security was under intense scrutiny, Old Trafford's embattled manager resembled anything but a man who potentially faces a date with destiny against Derby County tonight.
The Dutchman is not the first United manager to go into an FA Cup tie in the East Midlands with his future on the line.
Only time will tell, however, whether Van Gaal will oversee a repeat of Sir Alex Ferguson's Mark Robins-inspired escape act, at the other end of the A52 against Nottingham Forest in January 1990, when United face Paul Clement's team at the iPro Stadium.
With United winning just three of their last 13 games in all competitions, another setback against the Championship side would further test the faith of Ed Woodward, the club's executive vice-chairman, and the 5,000 travelling supporters due to make the journey from Manchester.
Yet with Woodward so far standing firm behind the 64-year-old, Van Gaal insisted he could win back the faith of the supporters and emerge on the other side of the storm to see out the remaining 18 months of his contract.
"I have signed a three-year contract. It is a process, not one game, and I want to continue until the end," Van Gaal said yesterday.
"If I was not willing to do that, I don't think I would have started here one and a half years ago.
"It is fantastic to have the support of Ed Woodward and the owners, but that also gives you a lot of pressure.
"When the board has such confidence, the pressure is much higher than when they say it is the last game or something like that.
"When your confidence is not so high, you can fight against it and, when you fight, you can have a bigger motivation than when they support you, but I always fight."
While Woodward and United's owners, the Glazers, continue to back the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach on the basis of the stability he has brought to the club behind the scenes, results and performances on the pitch have led to support draining away among the fans.
Van Gaal was subjected to the jeers of supporters following last Saturday's 1-0 defeat against Southampton at Old Trafford and he admits that he must rebuild the trust of those fans who no longer believe in his approach.
"It is always like that when you lose a game, certainly in the last minute, that you are fed up," Van Gaal said.
"How we have played is not always the main issue because you can play badly and win.
"When that happens, you are not so fed up, but it is your duty as a manager and a player to stand up again and do what you do because that is a professional attitude.
"The fans believe in me, or maybe had believed in me. We can fulfil their expectations, but I am now more dependent on belief than facts.
"The facts are that we are not in the top four, the gap is bigger now, so the belief is not so easy to achieve."
A catalogue of injuries - leaving United without eight senior players, five of them full-backs, for tonight's fourth-round tie - has been cited by Van Gaal as a central factor in the team's slump.
Despite his own wounded pride, Van Gaal insisted he has not offered to walk away from his job in recent weeks following the dismal run that has left the team five points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham in the Premier League.
"I have not mentioned that, ever," Van Gaal said.
"It is awful and horrible that you can write it. This is the third time that I have been 'sacked' and I am still sitting here, but I have always faced this (scrutiny). But when you lose, it is even worse."
A victory tonight and passage to the fifth round would do no harm to Van Gaal's immediate prospects and he admits that success in the Cup is a priority for a club without a trophy since 2013.
"Everybody has that ambition to win the FA Cup," Van Gaal said. "It is another title, so we have to give everything for that."