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Sunday 4 December 2016

Van Gaal signals end with 'it's over' comment

Mourinho poised to take over at Old Trafford as Neville predicts success

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal lifts the FA Cup trophy at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Getty
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal lifts the FA Cup trophy at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Getty

Louis van Gaal declared "it's over" yesterday as Manchester United seemingly edged closer to appointing Jose Mourinho.

Saturday's FA Cup final triumph against Crystal Palace offered little respite for the under-fire Dutchman, whose position came under fresh scrutiny before the celebrations at Wembley had subsided.

Within minutes of United being presented with the trophy, reports emanated that former Chelsea manager Mourinho would be unveiled in the coming days.

United have steadfastly refused to comment on speculation regarding their managerial situation, while the Portuguese kept his counsel when asked about the job ahead of David Haye's fight on Saturday evening.

Van Gaal, too, stood firm when asked about his position in the post-match press conference at Wembley, but fuelled speculation with a remark yesterday.

Walked away

When asked by a Sky Sports News reporter if he would stop to speak outside the team hotel, Van Gaal refused and said as he walked away: "It's over."

Given the brevity of the comment, it was not immediately clear whether that meant the former Holland manager had been told his time at United was at an end.

Van Gaal still has a season remaining on his three-year deal, while Mourinho has been out of work since paying for Chelsea's abysmal title defence in December.

The Portuguese has repeatedly spoken of his plans to return to work this summer, and reviving United's fortunes would surely be a mouth-watering proposition for the self-styled 'Special One'.

If Mourinho does land the Old Trafford job, former United defender Phil Neville expects him to bring success - if not over a long period.

"I can't see him staying too long at Man United, maybe two or three years - that seems to be his shelf-life at a football club,'' Neville said.

"When Jose finishes at a club it tends to be a pattern where he falls out with a few players, he gets disgruntled and the team dips.

"It happened at Chelsea, it certainly happened at Real Madrid where there were rumours he fell out with a few players.

"It's a pattern with Jose. He comes into a club, he gets success but he doesn't stay for too long."

Twenty-time English league champions United have failed to finish higher than fourth in any of the three seasons since Alex Ferguson retired.

Mourinho has a proven track record in England, having won the title three times with Chelsea, and Neville believes the former Real Madrid coach will already have a plan to achieve success again.

"He's a proven winner, a proven champion. United fans want a team that will challenge for the league title, not a team that finishes seventh or fifth, and Jose is probably the man for the job," Neville, part of David Moyes' coaching team at United, said.

"Knowing Jose as I do, I think he will have done his homework and he's meticulous in his planning.

"Don't be surprised if United in the next month, and particularly before the Euros, sign three or four players and when he gets to pre-season he has his squad already in place.

"He knows who he wants and at the start he will demand United sign those players for United to become championship challengers again."

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