Louis van Gaal accepts Man Utd may be 'preparing to change'

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Van Gaal annoyed by persistent Mourinho rumours
Van Gaal annoyed by persistent Mourinho rumours

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal accepts that the Old Trafford club may be paving the way for Jose Mourinho's arrival as his successor next summer.

Mourinho is widely reported to have agreed a deal to replace Van Gaal as United manager for next season, yet the Dutchman currently sitting the Old Trafford hot-seat continues to hold on to the belief that talks to find his successor have not taken place.

In a fascinating interview in The Independent, Van Gaal has given an insight into his mindset after another week of reports linking Mourinho with United, as he admitted the club need to make moves to prepare for the future if he is not part of their plans for next season.

"I think that if they want to change, they have to prepare themselves. That is also a professional attitude, in my opinion," Van Gaal told reporter Mark Ogden.

“If they are thinking that they want to replace me, they have to prepare and they have to enquire, that is what I think.

“I don’t know if Manchester United have spoken with Mourinho or not. I can only say that I have spoken with (United’s executive vice-chairman) Ed Woodward and I cannot imagine that they have spoken with each other.

"I think that if they speak with another manager, they would tell me because our relationship is like that.

"I not only have a strong relationship with Ed, but also with the Glazers. I have a good feeling with the Glazers also.

“And that is why I am annoyed with all the publicity. I have been ‘sacked’ three times and now it is about negotiations starting with Jose Mourinho.”

Van Gaal also addressed the criticism flowing his way from United supporters, as he accepted performance of his team have not been good enough this season.

“I am used to a lot of criticism,” he stated. “My performances in the media are also provocative, but I have had to cope with the criticism from the first time I was a coach. For me, it is not any more stress or bother to have to deal with it. 

“That is because, with the way I speak, my players are always protected. It is always against Louis van Gaal, it is never against my players, so that is a benefit of how I talk in the media.

“But do I enjoy it? No, because I am annoyed. I am very annoyed and there are a lot of people who know me who know that I am an honest guy and I will defend the good things and attack the wrong things.

"Of course, the Glazers are disappointed. Ed Woodward is disappointed and I am also disappointed because we are now further away from the top."

Van Gaal also hinted that he would be prepared to offer advice to the United board if they asked his opinion on who should replace him as Old Trafford boss.

"If they ask, I shall give my opinion and after that, they can do what they wish, but I never reign beyond my grave and, when I am gone, I cannot influence or contribute," he added when asked if he will try to influence who will succeed him at United.

“The next manager would also have to show the confidence in the younger players. So I cannot judge. If United, after I retire, hire a manager who does not give the benefit of the doubt to youngsters, it shall be very difficult."

That final comment may suggest that Van Gaal is not convinced in Mourinho's credentials for the role, as he has rarely looked to embrace the development of young players at any of the clubs he has worked for.