Blind offers Dutch return for beleaguered van Gaal

LONDON • Louis van Gaal has been offered a potential escape route from Manchester United, after Netherlands head coach Danny Blind said that he could do with his assistance with the national team.

Van Gaal remains under intense pressure at Old Trafford, despite a 0-0 draw at home with Chelsea on Monday averting the ignominy of a fifth successive defeat.

The Dutchman insisted after the game that he had no plans to resign as United manager, even though he is known to have considered that option over the past fortnight only to be urged to carry on by Ed Woodward, the club's executive vice-chairman.

A home defeat on Saturday by Swansea City, who have beaten United in their past three encounters, would raise fresh concerns, but van Gaal has been encouraged to re-join the Netherlands if he leaves United.

Blind, who served as van Gaal's assistant at last year's World Cup Finals before taking over as head coach from Guus Hiddink in July this year, believes that the United manager would be ideal as the technical director for Dutch football.

The Netherlands are in the midst of an internal inquest after failing to qualify for Euro 2016, and Blind hopes that van Gaal would consider such a move, even though the 64-year-old has claimed that United would be his last job in football before he retires.

"With van Gaal, I could achieve a lot," Blind, who turned down the chance to join van Gaal at United, told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

"He is in the top category, but there are many other options to think of where the shoe could fit.

"I do not know if that will happen. I recently read a comment by Bert van Oostveen (the director of professional football at the Dutch FA) about appointing a technical director, but I have not spoken to him about it personally."

For all the talk about van Gaal's position, United defender Chris Smalling said that the manager was not the only one fighting for his future.

Rejecting claims that the dressing room is no longer behind the Dutchman, Smalling said that every United player has to perform or risks being shipped out.

"To say we're not playing for the manager is silly," he said. "Every week we want to show everyone what a good team we are, and on our day, we can beat anyone."

Smalling is one of the players whose performances have improved during van Gaal's tenure, and he insists that the manager's demeanour remains unchanged.

"He has been himself from day one that we met him to how he is now," added the 26-year-old, who is viewed as a future United captain by the Dutch manager.

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline 'Blind offers Dutch return for beleaguered van Gaal'. Print Edition | Subscribe