Louis Van Gaal admits pressure is building

Louis van Gaal is determined to fight on at Manchester United but claims the club’s backing for him increases the pressure on his shoulders.

The Dutch manager has denied reports he offered to resign last weekend.

Van Gaal feels he has the support of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the board, and is pleased about that, but claims that places even greater expectation on him to deliver.

The heat on the already under-fire Van Gaal was turned up even more as United were booed off after last weekend’s defeat by Southampton, but the 64-year-old has no intention of walking away.

Van Gaal said at a press conference: “I think that I don’t have mentioned it ever.

“It is awful and horrible that you can write that and then I have to answer the questions of your story.

"I am very concerned people are believing what you are writing. It is this world that you can write what you want and you don’t have to verify anything.

"A lot of it is in a disrespectful way.

“It is now the third time already that I have been sacked, and I am still sitting here for you.”

Assessing his position, he said: “Everybody knows I have signed a three-year contract.

"That is not one game, it is a process. I want to continue until the end.”

Van Gaal accepts belief among fans may have waned but he is determined to win it back, as he is to repay the backing of the club.

He said: “Of course I am very happy with the support of Ed Woodward and the Glazers but it gives you also more pressure.

"It is the same thing I have more pressure because the fans believe in me, or maybe had, believed in me. That is possible.

“That gives more pressure to you because you will (need to) fulfil the expectations that they have of you.”

Asked if he can achieve that, Van Gaal said: “Of course. We are halfway. But now I am more dependent on belief than facts, because the facts are we are not in the first four of the Premier League, and that the gap is bigger.

"The belief is not so easy to believe.”

Explaining how the continued support of the club increases pressure on him, Van Gaal said: “When the board has such confidence in you then the pressure is much higher than when they say it is your last game, or something like that, because then the confidence is not so high, and you can fight against it.

"When you can fight you have bigger motivation than when they support you. I am always fighting.”

United’s slow style of play has been criticised all season and poor results have now intensified the scrutiny of Van Gaal.

United have won just twice in 10 Premier League games and are five points off fourth place.

Another damning statistic is they have not scored in the first half of their last 11 home games.

There are mitigating factors, notably an injury list that currently robs United of five players Van Gaal has used at full-back in Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, and Matteo Darmian, among others .

Van Gaal said: “We have been first in the Premier League. Maybe you remember that? That is one-and-a-half months ago. The injuries are now, that is also a problem.”

United face a testing trip to Sky Bet Championship high-flyers Derby in the fourth-round of the FA Cup tonight, and Van Gaal claims knives will be out for him again.

He said: “When you lose it is more worse and I predicted already, before the game against Southampton, that I cannot lose any more because I am then condemned for the fourth time that I have been sacked.

"Maybe then you have written the truth, because sometimes it happens.”

Midfielder Michael Carrick could feature though after four games out with a knee injury.

Derby boss Paul Clement has two winners’ medals from his time at Chelsea, where he was assistant to Guus Hiddink and then Carlo Ancelotti.

“I love the FA Cup, I really enjoyed it when I was at Chelsea. I had three goes at it and got a win twice,” said Clement.

Anything other than victory for Van Gaal will heap further unwanted scrutiny and pressure on the United manager and Clement fancies Derby’s chances.

“It wouldn’t be that much of an upset if we beat Manchester United. Assuming we perform well, it’s a fantastic opportunity,” said Clement, who has virtually a full squad to choose from for the fourth-round tie, with the exception of Will Hughes (knee).


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