Belfast Telegraph

Louis van Gaal wary of losing job as Wayne Rooney returns to Manchester United

By Phil Medlicott

Louis van Gaal insists he has been under far greater pressure in his career than he is now - but is wary of suffering the "great disappointment" of it concluding with him being sacked.

The 64-year-old Dutchman, who has stated his intention to retire when his current contract runs out in 2017, is enduring a tough time at the moment.

United are winless in five games in all competitions, out of the Champions League and six points off the top of the Premier League, while their playing style has been widely derided as dull.

Van Gaal dismissed reports suggesting there has been player unrest in the camp, stressing he has the "confidence" of the squad, as well as of the board.

But having admitted no manager is safe as he expressed his surprise at Jose Mourinho's sacking at Chelsea, Van Gaal also said he knows no improvement in United's results could mean "the end of the world" for him - and emphasised his eagerness to avoid bowing out from football by being fired.

Asked ahead of today's home league clash with Norwich if he was currently under the most pressure he had been as a manager, Van Gaal said: "No. The pressure when I started as a manager was higher. I cannot lose now that I am at the end of my career."

He was then asked if that affected his hunger and desire, and Van Gaal replied: "No, because I don't want to finish my career with the club sacking me. That would be a great disappointment, to say goodbye to football by being fired.

"I think my honour is much more pressure for me than the pressure of the media and fans."

If United are to win against Norwich today - after last week's loss at Bournemouth, Van Gaal set a specific target of victories in each of their next three games - skipper Wayne Rooney could be crucial.

The striker has been out for three games with an ankle injury but has trained all week and Van Gaal said he is set to return to action today for what would be his 500th United appearance.

Rooney has not enjoyed his best campaign so far, but is still his club's top scorer for 2015-16 with seven goals.

And Van Gaal believes the 30-year-old can be a force at the top level for at least two or three more seasons.

"I think so because we are playing like we have played this year and nevertheless he has scored the most goals - it is still Wayne Rooney," Van Gaal said.

Defender Chris Smalling (groin) and midfielder Ander Herrera (hamstring) could also return today after spells on the sidelines.

Belfast Telegraph


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