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Sunday 25 March 2018

'Enjoy the wine and a mince pie' - Louis van Gaal walks out of press conference

Louis van Gaal has been angered by speculation over his Manchester United future
Louis van Gaal has been angered by speculation over his Manchester United future

Louis van Gaal walked out of a press conference on Wednesday after becoming angered by speculation regarding his future as Manchester United manager.

Van Gaal's position at Old Trafford has come under increasing scrutiny in recent days after a winless run of six matches.

United were booed off the pitch following their 2-1 home defeat to Norwich last week and some supporters chanted the name of Jose Mourinho, who is on the market after being sacked by Chelsea.

Van Gaal made it clear he has been annoyed by the coverage of his possible departure and strode out of his weekly press conference at the club's training ground in Carrington on Wednesday.

After just under five minutes' questioning, the United manager refused to take any more questions and walked out, gesturing towards a table of mince pies and wine that had been laid on for the media and saying: "I wish you a merry Christmas and also maybe a happy new year when I see you.

"Enjoy the wine and a mince pie. Goodbye."

The press conference lasted just four minutes and 58 seconds in total. The Dutchman only answered three questions from the broadcast media and then refused to take any questions from the written press.

It was clear the 64-year-old, who is halfway through his three-year contract, was in an angry mood from the moment he took his seat.

"Has anybody in this room not a feeling to apologise to me? That's what I'm wondering," he snapped after being asked about Arsene Wenger's claim Van Gaal's treatment had been "disrespectful".

Senior club sources who were fulsome in their praise of Van Gaal three weeks ago have fallen silent of late, which has fuelled speculation the Dutchman is about to leave.

Van Gaal insists the board are not to blame for the speculation, however, and pointed the finger squarely at the media instead.

The former Bayern Munich manager said his family and friends had been adversely affected by the criticism and claimed he had been contacted by former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and director David Gill recently about the matter.

Van Gaal continued: "(I have read) my (former) colleague (Mourinho) was here already. What do you think happens with my wife or my kids? Or with my grandchildren? Or with the fans of Manchester United? Or my friends? What do you think? They have called me a lot of times and also Arsene Wenger is saying something about that.

"So you think that I want to talk with the media now? I am here only because of the Premier League rules. I have to talk with you. But I can only see when I say something that you use my words in your context."

On receiving calls from the three most influential United figures outside of the Glazer family, who own the club, Van Gaal said: "You have to stick by the facts and when I get calls off Alex Ferguson and David Gill and Ed Woodward because you are creating something that is not good, what is not being the facts, now I have to answer questions. I don't think I want to do it."

Van Gaal insists he has felt the "warmth" of the players and his staff at the club's training ground this week despite the stories surrounding him, which appeared after United dropped out of the top four.

He said: "I want to say only I have tried to lift the confidence of my players. I have done everything this week.

"I held meetings with the players, with my members of staff, I hold a Christmas lunch, I did a speech and I feel the warmth and support of everybody in Carrington, this AON Training Complex.

"But I didn't feel that in the media and of course I can imagine that you can write about that subject.

"We are not in a good position but four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League and in four weeks' time we can be back in that position again."

Van Gaal can lift the spirit of fans by ending that run at Stoke on Boxing Day.

"I only say now I am focused on Stoke City," he said. "I help my players."

Press Association

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