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English Premier League 2015-16

I hope United haven’t been talking to Mourinho behind my back, admits Van Gaal

Coach says he doesn’t know if he’ll be at Old Trafford next season

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 February, 2016, 10:48am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 February, 2016, 10:48am

Louis van Gaal says he would be upset if it is true that Manchester United have approached Jose Mourinho behind his back.

Embattled United boss van Gaal takes his team to Sunderland on Saturday with speculation mounting that Mourinho is waiting in the wings to take charge at Old Trafford.

United have refused to deny reports they have spoken to Mourinho in recent weeks following their team’s slump and the former Chelsea boss is said to have made it clear he is ready to replace Van Gaal if the Dutchman is sacked or departs at the end of the season.

Van Gaal concedes it is plausible the club have made contact with Mourinho in secret, but he is hoping that is not the case.

“Then I shall be disappointed [if contact has been made],” he said.

“Because that is the consequence of what I have said. In a football world that is possible, I know, but I do not think that.

“I have a relationship with [executive vice chairman] Ed [Woodward] and the Glazers, they [would] tell me I think.”

Van Gaal has confessed he does not know if he will still be manager should he fail to lead his team to a top-four finish.

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“It is not a question for me, I think,” said Van Gaal. “It is a question of the board of Manchester United, you have to put that question to them. I have a contract for three years.”

However, despite the uncertainty surrounding his position in charge of the club, Van Gaal does not expect any clarification from his employers over his status.

“No,” said Van Gaal. “I do not agree because I have said many, many times that – not all the media, of course – but a lot of the media is inventing stories and we don’t have to answer invented stories. I agree with this policy of the club.”

United have responded to the disaster of a home defeat to Southampton last month, which resulted in outright hostility from Reds’ supporters, with two wins and a draw and still retain interest in two cup competitions and the United manager believes his players are handling the pressure well given the turmoil around the club and surrounding his own job security.

“I have to say that we are doing great in that respect,” he said. “Because we have lost four matches in a row in December but when you see us playing now you can only say that we are mentally very strong.

“We can cope with the pressure but that is not enough. We have to improve our results and consistency and we have to win a lot of matches in a row now because we have to minimise the gap between us and our competitors.”

However, the veteran United manager is not inclined to make a prediction about how many of their remaining matches United will have to win if they are to bridge that gap to the four leading clubs.

“It’s also dependent on your competitors,” said Van Gaal.

“At the end of the competition the pressure is rising for everybody. Then you have to cope with that pressure and Manchester United is more or less used to that pressure.”