Belfast Telegraph

Van Gaal's Man United future in doubt as Old Trafford denies quit claims

By Phil Medlicott

Beleaguered Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal returned to work as the club dismissed talk of him having offered to quit after Saturday's 1-0 home loss against Southampton.

Reports emerged late on Monday suggesting the Dutchman spoke to United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward about his future immediately after the Barclays Premier League contest at the weekend.

Within that, there were some claims Van Gaal had offered his resignation - but United yesterday denied that was the case.

Meanwhile, the 64-year-old was back at the club's Aon Training Complex in Carrington after two days off for him and the players that were always scheduled, and during which he is understood to have been with his family in Holland.

Amid the intense speculation about Van Gaal's position and with him set for further discussions this week with Woodward, who was not in Manchester yesterday, Van Gaal has United's next game to think about.

That is Friday's FA Cup fourth-round trip to Derby, where a poor result - or even just a lacklustre performance - against the Sky Bet Championship side is only likely to increase the scrutiny on, and anger from United fans towards, Van Gaal, should he still be in his job by then.

Loud boos rang around Old Trafford following the final whistle of Saturday's game as Van Gaal endured what he later described as the worst reaction he has heard from United supporters during his time in charge.

He also said they were "right to boo'' and added: "I'm very disappointed that I cannot reach the expectations of the fans.

"They have - or they had - great expectations of me, and I cannot fulfil them.''

The Red Devils, whose style of play has frequently been criticised, had just one shot on target during the defeat.

They are five points off the Premier League's top four in fifth place, 10 points behind leaders Leicester, and have won only three of their last 13 matches in all competitions, a sequence which has included an exit from the Champions League.

The message understood to be coming from the board early on during that run of results was one of full support for Van Gaal, but it will be interesting to see how things develop from here.

Former United chief executive David Gill, now a non-executive director, admitted on Sunday "it's been a season of under-achievement", while it has been reported Woodward has been in touch with a number of players and senior figures at the club since the Southampton game about the situation.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has emerged as a strong contender to take over at Chelsea next season, as the club's search for the individual to succeed Guus Hiddink centres around five names.

The Dutchman took interim charge after Jose Mourinho's sacking. Italy manager Antonio Conte is another frontrunner but 43-year-old Pochettino's demonstration that he can flourish in England - while helping young, home-grown players develop - has put him in contention.

Other contenders are Argentine Jorge Sampaoli, who left his job as Chile manager following a dispute with the national federation, Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone and current France manager Didier Deschamps.

Belfast Telegraph


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