Sport Soccer

Sunday 18 March 2018

Van Gaal gets Rooney backing as Mourinho speculation grows despite FA Cup win

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, right, is facing even more questions about his future
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, right, is facing even more questions about his future

Wayne Rooney came out in defence of Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal as talk he is set to be replaced by Jose Mourinho intensified.

Within moments of winning the FA Cup, Van Gaal was forced to stand firm in the face of questions about former Chelsea manager Mourinho replacing him in the coming days.

Mourinho himself refused to comment when asked by Press Association Sport at ringside ahead of David Haye's bout in London, but captain Rooney fought his manager's corner.

"My knowledge about that is nothing at all. That's a question for Louis Van Gaal," he said.

"I don't want to speak about Louis van Gaal leaving. He's still our manager and I think it's a bit unfair after we've just won the FA Cup to speak about him as if he isn't here.

"I think he's a good manager I'm grateful he's helped us win this FA Cup."

Van Gaal has had to contend with similar speculation for much of the season and he remained defiant as the media put questions to him after his side beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Wembley.

Van Gaal placed the trophy on the desk in front of him and highlighted his success before hitting out at the media for prematurely writing about his demise.

Van Gaal said: "I show you the cup and I don't discuss it (my future) with my friends of the media, who already sacked me for six months. Which manager can do what I have done?"

It was then put to Van Gaal that the club have not put a stop to such rumours.

Van Gaal responded by asking his inquisitor, "You have followed the board?" before attempts were made by his press officer to change the subject to the game.

Asked if the victory could be the perfect send-off, Van Gaal said: "I don't want to talk about leaving the club."

United have made no official comment on the matter.

When asked by a reporter for BT Sport if he had needed to win the cup, the Dutchman said: "That's not so important for me. I want to win things, titles. I have won everywhere I have worked so I don't have to prove myself.

"When they want to use my knowledge, my management, I shall continue. We have proved today that we have a title, and that (the last title) was a long time ago.

"Also, in a period of Sir Alex Ferguson, he does not win every title.''

Asked if he will be seen next season, Van Gaal added: "I hope to see you."

United came from behind to triumph after extra-time at Wembley. Jason Puncheon put Palace ahead with just 12 minutes remaining, but Juan Mata quickly replied and Jesse Lingard snatched victory with a stunning volley in extra-time after United had Chris Smalling sent off.

Van Gaal was proud of the victory, which earned United a first trophy since the retirement of Ferguson three years ago.

He said: "I said when I started we are in a process of transition. I have already said a lot of times, so I repeat myself, I have to refresh my selection, my squad. I have done it.

"In spite of the many injuries this season we were still in the race and now we have lifted the cup. That is a title. It was three years ago that United (last) had a title.

"I am very proud I am the first manager after the period of Sir Alex Ferguson (to do that). I have made a picture with him because that is history."

The club's Twitter account posted a picture of Van Gaal and Ferguson holding the cup together.

Van Gaal revealed he had not been able to sign the players he wanted last summer as he addressed a question on whether United might be stronger next season.

He said: "That is dependable because last season I have asked for players. You don't think the players that I have asked have come. It is not easy when United go for a player. When United come the price is double, much more than double."

Van Gaal hailed the battling qualities of his players in securing victory.

He said: "In spite of being down to 10 players we showed the spirit we have shown on this road to the final."

One notable downside for United was a knee injury to striker Marcus Rashford sustained during the second half. The youngster's hopes of earning a place in England's squad for Euro 2016 could now be in jeopardy.

Van Gaal said: "We have to wait and see tomorrow or the day after how bad the injury is. You cannot predict that. You have to wait."

On Van Gaal, Smalling said: "There's not been anything mentioned, just celebrations in the dressing room. "I've got no idea (about the Mourinho reports), we are just going to enjoy the celebrations."

Fellow defender Daley Blind offered his support to the Dutchman.

He said: "It is a great atmosphere and the team is really close. The manager was very happy afterwards, like everybody else. It is the first time I have heard that Jose Mourinho will take over. Do I want Lous van Gaal to stay on as manager? Yes. I just hope the manager stays."

Press Association

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