Van Gaal: You think I'm leaving? No way, Jose

LONDON • Louis van Gaal has strongly insisted that he will remain as Manchester United manager next season - and it has emerged there is no deal in place to take Jose Mourinho to Old Trafford.

Despite continued reports that Mourinho has some kind of outline agreement to succeed him in the summer, Britain's The Sunday Times understands that is not the case.

While there has been contact between Ed Woodward and Mourinho's representatives since his dismissal as Chelsea manager in December, United's executive vice-chairman has repeatedly declined the opportunity to agree to a contract with the Portuguese.

This reflects a reluctance by the board to make a definite call on who next season's manager will be.

Van Gaal believes the assurances he has received mean it is he who will be in place in August.

Despite his team struggling to find a spot in next season's Champions League and the limited return from many of the recruits bought during his £250 million (S$490.9 million) transfer spend, the Dutchman points to reaching the FA Cup final and an upsurge in Premier League form as evidence of progress. He also highlights his development of youngsters such as Marcus Rashford, 18. Moreover, he says Woodward and his board budgeted for the journey forward being circuitous and that they - and not he - are behind a strategy for him to remain until next year.

"Of course (I knew the job would be hard). That is why they have hired me and also we have spoken about that. And also we have a process of three years," van Gaal, who signed a three-year contract in 2014, said on Saturday.

"I want to sign for two years, they want three years, not I. I have signed for three years so next year you see me again."

Referencing the continued speculation about his future and that Mourinho is set to replace him, he said defiantly: "You can write everything that you want. But you can't sack a manager for six months and I'm still here. You can't do that."

According to close friends, Mourinho would have taken over at Old Trafford mid-campaign had United's board taken a decision to change managers, but the board was split on hiring him.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'Van Gaal: You think I'm leaving? No way, Jose'. Print Edition | Subscribe