LONDON • Manchester United have denied a report in The Guardian that Louis van Gaal offered to resign at the weekend.
The manager was alleged to have told United's hierarchy that he wanted to stand down after the dismal 1-0 defeat by Southampton at Old Trafford on Saturday.
However, sources close to the club dismissed those suggestions yesterday, reported Reuters.
Van Gaal returned to Manchester on Monday night after flying to the Netherlands on Sunday for his daughter's birthday.
The 64-year-old is thought to have discussed his future with his family but he took training with the squad yesterday, as United prepare to play Derby County in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday.
Van Gaal was expected to hold fresh talks with United's board yesterday.
With United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward not set to be in Manchester yesterday, however, any talks between the two are unlikely to be face to face.
The Dutchman's future remains shrouded in uncertainty but Woodward has shown considerable patience in the man he appointed 18 months ago.
After the Southampton game, van Gaal admitted that he had failed at Old Trafford and was unable to fulfil the expectations of supporters.
He was still claiming last week that he retained the fans' support but he sensed a clear change in the mood at the weekend and acknowledged that the crowd's reaction was the most hostile he had witnessed so far.
He is understood to have been talked out of walking away twice over the Christmas period and spoke publicly last month about the prospect of resigning if he felt that he had lost the dressing room.
According to The Guardian, Woodward - solely responsible for van Gaal's future and who will manage United in the long term - is keen to avoid having to appoint a new manager in mid-season.
He also wants to gauge van Gaal's mood on his return, and, should United lose to Derby, the two may come to a mutual agreement that the manager should walk away.
Many supporters fear United's predicament will not improve under van Gaal and that the time has come for the club to make a change.
Talks have been held with Jose Mourinho's representatives about the prospect of the former Chelsea manager taking over in the summer, given the continuing uncertainty over van Gaal's position, and he is thought to crave the chance to take charge at Old Trafford.
Some reservations persist about the controversial Portuguese, though.
Ryan Giggs, van Gaal's assistant, would also hope to be considered for the permanent job, although the Welshman would most likely be installed on an interim basis.
Pep Guardiola continues to be linked with United but senior sources at Old Trafford have been convinced for some time that the Catalan will move to Manchester City at the end of the season, once his contract with Bayern Munich expires.
Despite spending a projected £285 million (S$581.2 million), van Gaal has received widespread criticism for United's dull style of play and they are at risk of missing out on Champions League football for the second time in three seasons.
They trail Tottenham Hotspur, in fourth, by five points and face Stoke City and Chelsea in their next two Premier League matches.
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN