Thursday 18 January 2018

Van Gaal dismisses idea of United lining up Mourinho

Jose Mourinho, left, and Louis van Gaal, right, are former touchline rivals
Jose Mourinho, left, and Louis van Gaal, right, are former touchline rivals
Louis van Gaal: No truck with Mourinho rumours Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Peter Ferguson

Louis van Gaal says he trusts Manchester United when they tell him they are not in talks with the former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as the pressure grows again on the Dutchman's position as manager.

Van Gaal, who goes to Stamford Bridge today with his revitalised team unbeaten in eight games, "cannot believe" Mourinho is being lined up as his successor at Old Trafford.

Mourinho's agent, Jorge Mendes, is understood to have held conversations with United - but he does have regular discussions with several Premier League clubs and no deal has been sealed. Van Gaal, who has been under fire over the style of play as well as results, has been on the offensive in recent weeks, strongly denying he had offered to resign or that he had been forced to hire security.

The former Holland manager, who has 18 months left on his United contract, said: "When I know that there is such a nonsense created about me, then I cannot believe there is already a relationship with Jose Mourinho and Manchester United either."

He said that the speculation was difficult for him, his wife, children and grandchildren, but that he had also had to cope with it while working in Spain and Germany. Van Gaal, who believes third place is still within United's grasp, said: "It is the football word nowadays. It is a pity, but it is like that."

He has so far enjoyed strong support from Ed Woodward, the United executive vice-chairman, who is expected to face hostile questions this week from shareholders anxious over the financial impact of the club's early exit from the Champions League in December.

The pressure is on United after Manchester City confirmed the worst kept secret in British football - that former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola would leave Bayern Munich in the summer to succeed Manuel Pellegrini in a £45m three-year deal.

Were Mourinho to arrive at Old Trafford, too, it would mean a resumption of the fearsome rivalry that began in Spain when he was coach of Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013.

Mourinho covets the United job and he is believed to have placed managing England second on his list.

He sees succeeding Roy Hodgson as the next best option to taking over at Old Trafford, and would relish working with John Stones, who he tried to sign for Chelsea, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.

Hodgson's contract is up at the end of the European Championship finals this summer, but a last-eight finish may yet win him an extension.

Mourinho has been offered the England job once before, following the departure of Steve McClaren, and has said it would be of interest to him at the right time.

Asked in 2014 if he would ever manage England, Mourinho said: "Yes. Not now. Not seven years ago when I had the chance. I made the right decision, my wife helped me make the right decision. Not now. No way.

"Too young, too strong, too much appetite to train every day, to play every game, to play three times a week, too much appetite still."

Sunday Indo Sport

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