LONDON • Louis van Gaal has received assurances about his future at Manchester United, including calls from executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and former manager Alex Ferguson, and insists he will keep his job at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman said he had also been given the backing of former chief executive David Gill and asked on Wednesday whether the journalists at his press conference wanted to apologise. He then walked out in a fit of pique.
It lasted four minutes and 58 seconds, comprising only three questions, before he made for the exit, saying he was there only because it was part of the league regulations.
His performance was reminiscent of some of Ferguson's regular walk-outs. But the key line before leaving his seat was that Woodward had told him there were no plans to sack him on the back of the dismal run in which the team have been eliminated from the Champions League and managed only seven shots on target in their past four home matches.
United's manager was clearly aggrieved about the level of speculation since the 2-1 defeat by Norwich last weekend, when he admitted that he "cannot close my eyes" to the prospect of losing his job.
NO FACTS IN MEDIA REPORTS
Has anybody in this room not a feeling to apologise to me? That's what I'm wondering. I think I was already sacked, I read.
LOUIS VAN GAAL
His team have fallen to fifth in the Premier League, with growing criticism about their style of play, but van Gaal has been assured that Jose Mourinho has not been offered the job, in keeping with what the former Chelsea manager's agent, Jorge Mendes, said on Tuesday.
"Has anybody in this room not a feeling to apologise to me?" van Gaal asked.
"That's what I'm wondering. I think I was already sacked, I read. I have been sacked.
"My colleague (Mourinho) was here already.
"I held meetings with the players and with my members of staff. I held a Christmas lunch. I did a speech and I felt the warmth and support of everybody in Carrington, our training complex. But I didn't feel that in the media.
"We are not in a good position but, four weeks ago, we were first in the Premier League and, in four weeks' time, we can be back in that position again."
For that to happen, it would need a dramatic shift in form, with United nine points adrift of Leicester City at the top.
United have not won any of their past six games, meaning van Gaal's win ratio, 50.7 per cent, is lower than David Moyes' figure of 52.95 per cent.
There have also been clear indications that many supporters have lost faith in van Gaal but the former Netherlands manager has clearly been encouraged by what he has heard from the club's England-based directors.
His team play at Stoke City tomorrow, followed by Chelsea's visit to Old Trafford two days later, and van Gaal insists they are still in the title race. THE GUARDIAN
STOKE V MANCHESTER UNITED
Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, tomorrow, 8.45pm