In Depth

Alex Ferguson poised for dramatic Man United comeback

The 74-year-old Scot tipped to form managerial partnership with Ryan Giggs if Louis van Gaal gets the bullet

The future of Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal remains as murky as the Manchester ship canal with reports claiming that Alex Ferguson "could be set for a sensational return" to Old Trafford.

The 74-year-old Scot stepped down as United boss in May 2013, after 27 years in charge, but has been lurking on the sidelines ever since. Now he could be set to step in to restore the club's battered reputation, says the Manchester Evening News, which claims Fergie would be "prepared to act in an advisory role" to Ryan Giggs if Louis van Gaal leaves.

Despite his retirement as manager, Ferguson continues to be heavily involved with United in an ambassadorial role and is a visible presence at Old Trafford on match days. And he, like the rest of the club's supporters, will have been dismayed by the team's steady decline in the last three seasons, under first David Moyes and now van Gaal.

The MEN says Dutchman Van Gaal "is coming under increasing pressure" at United because of their early exit from the Champions League and their stuttering form in the title race, although eight points from their last four games has seen them move up to fifth, seven points behind leaders Arsenal.

Though United have been linked with Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in recent months, the MEN claims that Van Gaal's number two, Ryan Giggs, "is very much seen as a future United manager within the club". But the 42-year-old, who only retired from playing in 2014, lacks managerial experience and the United board believe bringing back Ferguson "in a mentor role" could be the ideal solution as well as giving the fans "a dream partnership".

Given all the speculation over his future, might Van Gaal jump before he is pushed? According to the Daily Mirror, he is "considering walking out on Manchester United this summer", a year before his contract expires. The newspaper alleges that the 64-year-old is struggling to cope with the pressure and consequently his "family have become increasingly concerned" for his welfare.

Much will depend on how United fare in the final four months of this season, but the Mirror notes that Van Gaal has "walked away from several posts in the past" and the United board are aware of the fact.

If he does decide to quit, the Mirror claims it won't be Fergie the club turns to, but Jose Mourinho, who is apparently "willing to bide his time" before taking over the helm at United.

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