Van Gaal casts doubt on exit date

Louis van Gaal has cast doubt on the idea that he will walk away from Manchester United in 2017, but admits delaying his retirement would be hard on his wife.

Van Gaal insisted on United’s pre-season tour that he would leave Old Trafford when his contract expires in 18 months’ time.

Alex Ferguson claimed last week that the Dutchman would find it hard to depart, however.

“You never know what Louis will do. When you get the bug it’s hard to leave,” said the former United manager, who reversed his decision to retire in 2002.

There is no suggestion Van Gaal will carry on for a further 11 years, as Ferguson did, but there was a slight hint from the Dutchman yesterday that his decision to retire is not yet set in stone.

“Normally I shall leave after next year but what is normal in our football world? You never know so I cannot answer that question,” the United manager said.

“But I promised my wife to go with her to our paradise (villa in Portugal) so it shall be very hard for me to deny that promise.”

Van Gaal has two main objectives before he departs for his luxury villa in Vale do Lobo.

He wants to win the Champions League and the Premier League.

He has made a good start on the latter, taking United to the top of the table after seven matches.

But United started their group stage campaign with defeat at PSV.

Van Gaal believes his men must now win all their home matches, starting with tonight’s game versus Wolfsburg, to qualify for the knockout stages.

“I think in the Champions League you need to win all your home matches otherwise it shall be very difficult,” said Van Gaal.

“Reaching the (Champions League) final is also an aim and winning the final is a little bit luck.”

Bastian Schweinsteiger, sat beside Van Gaal for yesterday’s pre-match press conference at Old Trafford, believes United are capable of winning the Champions League.

The German, who won the competition with Bayern Munich in 2013, said: “Yes. I think (we can). But of course first of all we have to do our work.

“As the manager said we have to win our games at home.”

United climbed to the top of the Premier League table for the first time in over two years last weekend when they beat Sunderland 3-0.

The Red Devils have lost once in the league this season , but their performances have been far from outstanding.

Van Gaal insists his team are making good progress, however.

“We have made progression in the maturity and balance of the team,” he added. “But we need still time to improve because we have to improve.”

Schweinsteiger needs little improvement to his game, according to his manager.

“He is off the pitch very useful and you can see it already,” Van Gaal said.

“He has already (been) accepted as a leading player and that is why we have bought him from Bayern Munich. I am very happy with him.”

Schweinsteiger himself is happy to assume the role of mentor to the squad’s young stars like Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial.

“I will try to guide them, of course,” the German said. “They can achieve a lot.”

Michael Carrick has been ruled out of the game against Wolfsburg through injury.

Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia also missed training yesterday , but could still feature, according to Van Gaal.

United will meet a familiar face in Nicklas Bendtner who has turned a corner and is keen to prove his doubters wrong at Old Trafford, according to Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking.

Bendtner was regarded as a good young prospect when Arsenal signed him in 2004, but 10 years later he left the club having started just 41 Premier League games.

The Dane’s cocksure personality made him a divisive figure among followers of the Premier League and manager Arsene Wenger loaned the player out three times.

Bendtner problems continued after his move to Wolfsburg but he scored a vital equaliser and the winning penalty in the club’s DFL-Supercup victory over Bayern Munich in August and is now a key squad member according to his manager.

“He has reacted very well. I have seen that in training,” Hecking said.

“He did have problems before but in his time at Wolfsburg he has come on a lot.

“Certainly in the last four to six weeks I have seen more development from him. He is on the right track. That is clear.

“He shows that in training, perhaps with less of the extravagance that he showed in England before, so I think he is on the right track and he will definitely be keen to play on Wednesday.”

Wolfsburg began their Champions League campaign with a win against CSKA Moscow.

And Hecking is looking to make life for the hosts more difficult tonight. “They lost their first game, that creates a bit of pressure on United, but I think they are capable of dealing with that,” he said.

“It is up to us to increase the pressure on them on Wednesday. That is a big if. We will have to wait and see what happens.”


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