Friday 23 February 2018

Louis van Gaal storms out of press conference, though not without wishing media a 'merry Christmas'

Louis van Gaal has blamed the media for speculation over his job.
Louis van Gaal has blamed the media for speculation over his job.
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal stormed out of his latest press conference after less than five minutes, as pressure continues to mount on the Dutchman at Old Trafford.

A clearly irate Van Gaal insisted he had the full support from the key members of the Manchester United board and his players, as he suggested the media were creating a story to undermine his position at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal confirmed that he had spoken to former United manager Alex Ferguson, while he claimed he felt the "warmth and support of everyone" at United's training ground.

"We are not in a good position, but four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League," stated Van Gaal. "In four weeks time, we can be back in that position.

"I don't think the media can do that (create speculation). You have to stick by the facts. You are creating something that is not good. Something that is not the facts.

"Now I have to answer questions and I don't want to do it. I am focused on Stoke City.  I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy some wine and a mince pie. Goodbye."

The frosty media conference will fuel speculation that Van Gaal is feeling the pressure mounting around him at Old Trafford, with his claims that he hopes to see the media again the New Year apparent confirmation that he is not ready to quit as United boss.

A frenzy of rumours on Tuesday suggested Van Gaal's time at United was coming to an end, but he remains in charge for the game against Stoke on St Stephen's Day and, apparently, the clash against Chelsea on Monday.

Jose Mourinho remains the hot favourite to replace him at United, just a few days after he was sacked as manager of Chelsea.

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 people 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 embarked upon a six-match winless run.

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. I wish you a Merry Christmas and also maybe a Happy New Year when I see you."

Additional reporting by PA

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