Clinging on – Van Gaal
Under-fire Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal may not be on the brink of being sacked and could even survive a negative result against League One strugglers Shrewsbury in the FA Cup on Monday night, according to Old Trafford sources.
The United hierarchy are being tipped to stick with the Dutchman – at least until they see that qualification for next season’s Champions League becomes an impossibility.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the Glazers know Jose Mourinho is desperate to take over, but are uncertain whether the Special One would be all that special as a replacement for the disastrous Dutchman.
They would prefer to wait for as long as possible before making a final decision on Mourinho over fears that by bringing him in they would be stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
There was a chorus of calls for Van Gaal’s head after last Thursday’s dreadful defeat by European minnows FC Midtjylland and yet even if Micky Mellon’s Shrewsbury were to knock United out of the FA Cup at the fifth round stage, Woodward may opt to stand by his manager.
Woodward, having already appointed one failed manager in David Moyes, remains anxious not to have to another on his hands.
Life is liable to get even more complicated for Woodward as it is understood that Ryan Giggs, were LVG to be sacked, would not want to become caretaker manager for a second time – as he did when Moyes went after just ten months.
Woodward, who retains an interest in hiring Mourinho, believes that Van Gaal has had no luck because of the number of injuries the squad has sustained. He privately argues that despite spending £250m, he has had little opportunity to bed down a settled team.
United’s head honcho also maintains that the drab style of performance this season especially is more about lack of numbers than a lack of an understanding of the Old Trafford way by Van Gaal.
The Dutchman has insisted on a number of occasions that he would not quit although defeat in the Football League outpost of Shrewsbury would surely force his hand, yet as United’s power brokers continue to consider their options, it is understood that no one from above has suggested to Van Gaal that he should call it quits.
Woodward is believed to still have sympathy for Van Gaal even if few within Old Trafford would go along with him. David De Gea’s knee injury in Denmark only added to a staggering list of players in the Old Trafford casualty department.
The Spanish goalkeeper joins Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj on the sidelines.
Skipper Wayne Rooney was also ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury before United set off for that dismal 2–1 defeat in Denmark.