In Depth

Louis van Gaal turns on media as he feels Man Utd pressure

Dutchman walks out of his press conference after just five minutes, suggesting the media should apologise to him

Arsene Wenger is not alone in thinking that the recent treatment of Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has been "disrespectful". So too does Van Gaal, and he made his point by walking out of a press conference after telling the assembled media that he was only giving them the time of day "because of the Premier League rules".

The Dutchman answered just three questions, responding to them all by criticising what he believes to be unfair criticism of him by the media, and at one point suggesting that the reporters in the room should all apologise to him. He did also offer the assembled media a mince pie.

Van Gaal claimed that he was particularly hurt by the numerous reports of his sacking on Tuesday, although those rumours were almost entirely based on Twitter speculation rather than anything that anyone at the press conference would have had a hand in.

Arsene Wenger had come out earlier in the day to defend his colleague, calling the speculation "disrespectful" to the 64-year-old. When asked if he agreed with Wenger's assessment of the situation, Van Gaal came back with questions of his own.

"Has anybody in this room not a feeling to apologise to me? Nobody has that feeling? That's what I'm wondering," he asked, before continuing: “I think I was already sacked, I have read – I have been sacked. My colleague was here already. What do you think that happens with my wife or with my kids or with my grandchildren or with the fans of Manchester United or my friends?"

His parting words were: "I wish you a merry Christmas and maybe also a happy new year when I see you. Enjoy the wine and a mince pie. Goodbye."

"There really is no doubting Louis van Gaal's conviction that the journalists he walked out on during Wednesday's press conference are intellectually inferior to him," writes Ian Herbert of The Independent, and the Dutchman's actions are symptomatic of the deterioration of his relations with the media.

He appeared to blame the press for the pressure being applied from above him in the club, telling the reporters that "you have to stick by the facts and when I get calls from Alex Ferguson and David Gill and Ed Woodward because you are creating something that is not good, that is not being the facts".

Unfortunately for Van Gaal, the facts are that his team are without a win in six games, have fallen out of the Champions League positions, tumbled out of the Champions League itself and sit nine points off the league despite having topped the table barely a month ago.

Mourinho agent claims 'no contact' with Manchester United

23 December

Louis van Gaal's position at Manchester United looks safe in the short term, despite an online storm on Tuesday evening - whipped up by a tweet, which was swiftly deleted, from former Manchester City player and TV pundit Trevor Sinclair.

The message was seized upon reports the Manchester Evening News, but Sinclair himself later sent a denial, claiming he had been pranked after leaving his phone on the table at a Christmas party.

Earlier claims that Jose Mourinho was in talks with United were denied by his agent, Jorge Mendes, reports The Guardian.

"There is nothing," said Mendes when asked if any discussions had taken place with United. "We don't know what will happen in the future, but now there is no agreement. There isn't an official proposal either, that's not true."

Mourinho's exit from Stamford Bridge on Chelsea was inadvertently timed perfectly to unsettle the situation at United - presenting the club's fans with a potential replacement to hold up to the board when they lost limply at home to Norwich just two days later.

It looks more and more like Van Gaal will be in charge at least for the club's Boxing Day visit to Stoke, with the Guardian also reporting that the Dutchman will face the media and hold his pre-match press conference as normal on Wednesday.

It's thought that the uncertainty over Mourinho's suitability as a replacement is giving Van Gaal a little extra security, with the paper reporting that "at least one of the key decision-makers at Old Trafford dislikes the idea of him taking over".

They are not alone. Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said appointing Mourinho would go against the club's principles and would be inspired by "fear".

Running the rule over the Special One, Carragher said: "Winning trophies? Jose massively ticks that box. Bringing young players through? No. Playing exciting, cut-throat football, going for every game? He doesn't tick that box either."

But that does not mean Van Gaal is not in danger, says the Daily Telegraph. "He is set to lose his job if United lose either at the Britannia Stadium or against Chelsea at Old Trafford next Monday."

One of the reasons is growing dissatisfaction over United's slide down the table since they were top a month ago. Rob Dawson in the Manchester Evening News calls it "a tale of missed opportunities as much as anything else".

"Then there is the manner of the disappointments," he adds. "Five goals in six games. Two 0-0 draws. One shot on target against West Ham. Two against Norwich. It doesn't look good. The fall has been swift and severe."

Man Utd 'in talks' as Mourinho tipped to replace Van Gaal

22 December

Manchester United have held talks with the representatives of sacked Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as the pressure on current boss Louis van Gaal continues to grow.

"Informal talks" have taken place reports The Times, and the paper says there is a "better than evens" chance that he wil take over at Old Trafford if Van Gaal cannot halt the current slump.

"Mourinho's appointment is not certain," says the Times, which adds no deal has been finalised and Mourinho considers Van Gaal a friend and wants to show him respect while he is still in the job.

But it has been reported that he has only two games to save his skin, and is on thin ice after losing the trust of the players.

"Several players have held grave reservations about Van Gaal's methods for some time — some of those were conveyed by Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, captain and vice-captain, on behalf of the squad this season — but larger swathes of the dressing room have begun to question the manager privately in recent weeks," adds the paper.

It is time for Ed Woodward to act, says Samuel Luckhurst in the Manchester Evening News. "The plan has failed, there is no solution and everyone is starting to turn on each other," he says.

Van Gaal has also undermined himself by being both efficient and unsuccessful, while Woodward now has the chance to finally make a bold decision.

"A new manager is required," says Luckhurst. "Van Gaal has built solid foundations for his replacement and ruthlessly weeded out the dead wood Ferguson negligently let fester. The Dutchman, though, has been exposed as a coach who is out of date."

With Mourinho available and Pep Guardiola on the market this summer, United must ensure than one of them is at the helm next season, insists Luckhurst.

Others agree that United cannot afford to let world class managers slip through their fingers. "There has been no offer to Mourinho or any other candidate to take over at United but there is an awareness that the club have to be in the right position to take opportunities should they come their way," says the Daily Telegraph.

However, Mourinho will not be rushed into taking his next job and will "take his time" choosing it. Mourinho has always planned his projects well in advance and will also take into account his family's wishes about where they want to live. They are settled in London and Mourinho had planned to stay there for a long time, notes the paper.

Manchester United loss leaves Louis Van Gaal on the brink

21 December

Manchester United's shock defeat at home to Norwich on Saturday afternoon left the Red Devils facing Christmas outside of the Premier League's top four, and Louis van Gaal reportedly clinging onto his job by his fingernails. 

With Jose Mourinho parting ways with Chelsea last week, Van Gaal has become the manager under the spotlight in the Premier League - a situation not helped by rumours that Mourinho himself is being lined up to take over from the Dutchman should the situation at Old Trafford get any worse. 

The team were booed off the pitch after the game against Norwich, which saw United dominate possession without looking dangerous before falling behind to a Cameron Jerome goal. Alex Tettey added a second, and Anthony Martial's goal with 25 minutes to play wasn't enough to spark a comeback. 

United are now on a run of six games without a win in all competitions, and The Guardian reports that Van Gaal has just two games turn things around before he becomes the latest high-profile managerial casualty of the season. 

And it's not just the results that are against him. To make matters worse senior figures in the United dressing room have "grown tired of the Dutchman's approach, both in terms of tactics and a perceived obsession with critical post-match analysis in 'evaluation' sessions overseen by performance analyst, Max Reckers," writes Mark Ogden in The Independent.

As well as Mourinho's sudden availability, Bayern Munich announced over the weekend that manager Pep Guardiola would be leaving the club at the end of the season, to be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti. 

That is sure to spark a scramble for the Spaniard's signature. Guardiola has been touted as a potential successor to Van Gaal for some time now, and the Guardian suggests that should the Dutchman be fired, Ryan Giggs could take the reins at Old Trafford until the former Barcelona man becomes available in the summer. 

United may take Chelsea's performance on the weekend as an encouraging sign of the benefits of switching bosses. Caretaker manager Steve Holland oversaw a much-improved performance against Sunderland in the first game without Mourinho, in which the Blues scored as many goals in the opening 15 minutes as they had in their previous five Premier League matches combined. 

Fans protested Mourinho's sacking at the game, with choruses of boos ringing around the stadium at various points, but the improved performance ahead of Guus Hiddink taking over as interim manager this week left owner Roman Abramovich with a smile on his face at the end of the game. 

Arsene Wenger is not alone in thinking that the recent treatment of Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has been [a]"disrespectful"[a]. So too does Van Gaal, and he made his point by walking out of a press conference after telling the assembled media that he was only giving them the time of day "because of the Premier League rules".

The Dutchman answered just three questions, responding to them all by criticising what he believes to be unfair criticism of him by the media, and at one point suggesting that the reporters in the room should all apologise to him. He did also offer the assembled media a mince pie.

Van Gaal claimed that he was particularly hurt by the numerous reports of his sacking on Tuesday, although those rumours were almost entirely based on Twitter speculation rather than anything that anyone at the press conference would have had a hand in.

Arsene Wenger had come out earlier in the day to defend his colleague, calling the speculation "disrespectful" to the 64-year-old. When asked if he agreed with Wenger's assessment of the situation, Van Gaal came back with questions of his own.

"Has anybody in this room not a feeling to apologise to me? Nobody has that feeling? That's what I'm wondering," he asked, before continuing: “I think I was already sacked, I have read – I have been sacked. My colleague was here already. What do you think that happens with my wife or with my kids or with my grandchildren or with the fans of Manchester United or my friends?"

His parting words were: "I wish you a merry Christmas and maybe also a happy new year when I see you. Enjoy the wine and a mince pie. Goodbye."

"There really is no doubting Louis van Gaal's conviction that the journalists he walked out on during Wednesday's press conference are intellectually inferior to him," writes Ian Herbert of [1]The Independent, and the Dutchman's actions are symptomatic of the deterioration of his relations with the media.

He appeared to blame the press for the pressure being applied from above him in the club, telling the reporters that "you have to stick by the facts and when I get calls from Alex Ferguson and David Gill and Ed Woodward because you are creating something that is not good, that is not being the facts".

Unfortunately for Van Gaal, the facts are that his team are without a win in six games, have fallen out of the Champions League positions, tumbled out of the Champions League itself and sit nine points off the league despite having topped the table barely a month ago.

[a] https://www.theweek.co.uk/premier-league/68110/wenger-slams-van-gaal-gossip-another-dig-at-mourinho

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/transfers/louis-van-gaal-errors-in-transfer-market-are-not-helping-the-manchester-united-managers-cause-a6784941.html

Manchester United, Louis van Gaal

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