LONDON • Louis van Gaal insisted that he would walk away from Manchester United if he lost the dressing room.
The Dutchman has come in for fierce criticism over the English Premier League team's dull style and lack of entertainment as well as his regimented approach.
That has invited accusations of breeding boredom and frustration among the players, as well as stifling creativity.
Captain Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, the vice-captain, went to see van Gaal earlier in the season to register their concerns on behalf of a "flat" dressing room.
But the manager, who joined in July last year, maintained on Friday that he retained the backing of the players and would quit if he lost that "chemistry".
RELATIONSHIP IS KEY
The most important thing for me as a trainer, coach and manager is the chemistry between me and my players and my board. It should be good. Otherwise, I would be gone. It's good (at United).
LOUIS VAN GAAL, on the working environment at Manchester United
"In my opinion, the most important thing is the chemistry between players and staff," he said ahead of yesterday's Premier League clash against West Ham.
"And when I have the feeling that the chemistry is there, I will always work to my utmost best.
"But when I have a single feeling that it is not like that, I'm the first coach that quits and I have proved that already with my former clubs and former jobs."
Van Gaal left Barcelona by mutual consent in January 2003 after a troubled second spell at the Nou Camp, where he fell out with players and struggled for results.
The next year, he was appointed technical director of Ajax.
But he resigned 12 months later after a dispute with Ronald Koeman, then the manager.
At Alkmaar, he threatened to resign at the end of the 2007-08 campaign amid concern that his methods were not working.
He was persuaded to stay and subsequently delivered the Dutch title the next season.
"I don't think there is a coach that quits by himself because of the money but I am like that," he said.
"It's fantastic that people are saying when I'm gone, 'Oh, he was very good, he gave structure and was the basis for other things'.
"But it's not the most important thing. The most important thing for me as a trainer, coach and manager is the chemistry between me and my players and my board.
"Otherwise, I would be gone.
"It's good (at United)."
If British media reports are to be believed, however, van Gaal has fallen out with a number of players in recent months.
Among them are goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who has been frozen out, defender Marcos Rojo, as well as winger Angel di Maria and Robin van Persie, both of whom have since left Old Trafford in less-than-amicable circumstances.
Van Gaal could come under more pressure on Tuesday, with United in danger of elimination from the Champions League.
They will have to beat Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena in Germany in their final group game to secure their progress to the knockout stages, if PSV Eindhoven overcome CSKA Moscow in the Netherlands in the other group B tie.
THE TIMES, LONDON