Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admits he could face Man Unittd sacking if he fails to guide them to a top-four finish.
As the Red Devils get set to play Sunderland on Saturday, Van Gaal’s future is under intense scrutiny with United six points adrift of the top four and Jose Mourinho linked with taking over in the summer.
And Van Gaal admits he is under pressure with the board set to make a decision at the end of the season.
Speaking to the media at his press conference on whether he will still be in charge if United fail to secure Champions League qualification, Van Gaal said:
“It is not a question for me. It is a question for the board of Manchester United. I have a contract for three years.”
But he dismissed suggestions that United’s hierarchy should end all the speculation over Mourinho by issuing a statement.
“I do not agree. I have said it many times. A lot of the media is inventing stories so you don’t have to answer,” he added.
Asked if he genuinely believes the media are fabricating stories about United opening talks with Mourinho, his blunt response was: “Yes.”
Van Gaal sees this weekend as a chance to make ground on the top four. United travel to struggling Sunderland on Saturday while Arsenal play Leicester and Manchester City face Spurs on Sunday.
He said: “We don’t have to look at our competitors. We have to win our own matches first. That is why we were so frustrated at (the draw) Chelsea. We know they (top four) play against each other so it is sure some of our competitors will lose points. But we have to win first.”
Van Gaal also revealed that Marco Rojo and Antonio Valencia could return on Saturday but ruled out six players ahead of the weekend game against the Black Cats.
“Jones, Varela and Januzaj were injured in the U21s. They’re not nasty injuries but they need time to recover,” Van Gaal said. “We have a lot of injuries and we have to cope with that. When you play a lot of matches – and we play a lot in February and hopefully also in March – it’s more difficult.”
The Dutchman also offered an update on midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has been sidelined since injuring his knee against Sheffield United in the FA Cup in early January.
“I cannot say Bastian Schweinsteiger is returning in two weeks. I have given him a holiday,” said the manager.
On Marcos Rojo (shoulder) and Antonio Valencia (leg), Van Gaal added: “They’re coming back and I hope to have them as soon as possible.”