herald

Friday 9 December 2016

There's no pep in Louis' next step

Van Gaal not fazed by Guardiola's availability as focus turns to Blades

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has praised current Bayern Munich manager Pep
Guardiola's desire to manage in the Premier League (PA)
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has praised current Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola's desire to manage in the Premier League (PA)

Louis van Gaal insists he is not intimidated by Pep Guardiola's declaration that he is bound for the Premier League.

Guardiola announced this week that he is to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

Manchester City are the favourites to appoint Guardiola, but Manchester United have been mentioned as a possible destination for the former Barcelona manager.

Van Gaal insists Guardiola's arrival does not put any extra pressure on his shoulders, however, as he thinks he is secure in his job despite United's recent poor form.

"Every manager has that right to announce (he is leaving)," the United mannager said.

"I'm at the end of my career so for me it's not so interesting, for me (Guardiola's declaration) is interesting how I take care of Manchester United in my contract and after this season I still have one year to go."

Van Gaal has no problem with Guardiola announcing his departure from Bayern before the end of the season as he declared he wanted to come to the Premier League when he was still Holland coach in 2014.

"I have said that two years ago also so it's not so strange," he said. "Some people are looking a little bit strange to that fact but that's good.

"Managers have ambitions and Pep Guardiola has that ambition too and he wants to sniff to the culture of England and the Premier League and I wanted that also. I think that it is very good he wants to do that and I don't think it will interfere in his club now."

Van Gaal does not believe it is certain two-time Champions League winner Guardiola will be in England next year, anyway.

He added: "It's not for sure he will be the manager of a Premier League club next year.

"The Premier League club is also partner of a contract so he has to believe in you." It was the availability of another successful manager, Jose Mourinho, that prompted speculation Van Gaal would be sacked during a barren run of eight matches without a win. Van Gaal arrested that slump with victory over Swansea last weekend, but the Dutchman does not believe that necessarily means his team have turned a corner.

"I'm not agreed with your analysis," Van Gaal said when it was put to him that the quality of United's displays had improved recently.

"We are playing always attacking football, only we have scored (against Swansea), that's the big difference. That it shall give me confidence we have still to see because one swallow doesn't make a summer. I hope so.

"I see that also in the training sessions but you have to show it also at a certain time for 90 minutes and that's why football is so amazing because you never know."

The pressure will be back on Van Gaal if United are knocked out of the FA Cup by League One side Sheffield United this evening, of course.

Adnan Januzaj will not be available for the third-round tie at Old Trafford even though he was recalled from his unsuccessful loan spell at Borussia Dortmund on Thursday.

The Belgian is regarded as one of the best young players at Old Trafford, but did not start a league match for Dortmund during his five-month spell at the German club.

"I believe in the talent of Adnan Januzaj. I said it would be very difficult to play matches in Dortmund and unfortunately I was right. If he can play Monday in the second team (at Reading) he shall play in the second team."

Van Gaal confirmed Phil Jones is out of this evening's game because of an ankle injury he suffered against Swansea. Jesse Lingard has recovered from the hamstring injury that has kept him out for the last month, however.

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