Sports / Soccer

Van Gaal vows to fight through Utd uncertainty

By Agence France Presse In Manchester, Uk (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-30 08:19

Louis van Gaal has vowed to fight on as Manchester United manager, but admits the matter may yet be taken out of his hands by the club's board.

The Dutchman, 64, has faced three weeks of speculation after a run of games that has seen United slip to sixth place in the Premier League table and limp out of the Champions League in the group phase.

Despite an improved display, it could only draw 0-0 with misfiring champion Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday - its sixth scoreless stalemate at home this season. But van Gaal said that behind the scenes, everyone at the club is pulling in the same direction.

"The environment (around the club) is making the crisis," he said.

"Inside the club the players are willing to fight for every meter, the manager is willing to fight, the staff members are willing to fight and the board is very confident in the staff and their manager."

Speaking after Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Stoke City, which was United's fourth in a row, a subdued van Gaal suggested he could elect to leave the club rather than wait for the axe to fall.

But he was defiant after the draw with Chelsea, proclaiming "I shall not resign" in a television interview, and explaining he had raised the issue of resignation merely to show the club did not hold all the cards with regard to his future.

He also said he had walked out of a media conference before the Stoke game to protest "lies" in the media.

"That's the reason I walked away from the press conference," he said. "Not with a 'stormy' head or 'angry' head. No, I walked with a quietness because I wanted to make my point."

United appeared to have rediscovered an element of vim in the early stages against Chelsea, with Juan Mata and Anthony Martial hitting the woodwork.

Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney also came close, but Chelsea had chances of its own. David de Gea thwarted John Terry, Pedro Rodriguez and Cesar Azpilicueta, and Nemanja Matic blazed a shot just over the crossbar.

For all his talk of fighting on, van Gaal acknowledged he will be powerless to do anything if United's owners - the Glazer family and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward - remove their backing.

"I have said that Manchester United has a lot of confidence in its manager and I have not received that at other clubs," he said.

"But of course I know there are circumstances when a board has to decide to sack the manager. I'm looking always from my point of view and that can be not the right view.

"In this crazy football world that can happen every day, also with me. When it happens to Jose Mourinho, then it can happen with me."

Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink remains winless after two games of his second stint in interim charge. A 3-1 win over Sunderland took place before he took up his functions - but he has seen signs of progress.

"No win, but we have to look and consider the situation where Chelsea was or is and now we are three games (in) and what is important is the boys experienced a very bad half year and they have to lift it up," Hiddink said.

"Starting with Sunderland and Watford (against whom Chelsea drew 2-2) and now, the team knows what we have to do."

Pochettino cautious about Tottenham title talk

Mauricio Pochettino urged his Tottenham stars to keep their feet on the ground as they head into 2016 firmly entrenched in the Premier League title race.

Pochettino's side moves into the new year primed to not just battle for a Champions League place, but vie for the domestic crown.

Not since 1961 has Tottenham won the league, but its gritty 2-1 win over 10-man Watford on Monday was another clear indication this could yet be its year in this topsy-turvy edition of the Premier League.

It lies in third place but, while Pochettino knows silverware is for the taking, the Tottenham manager refuses to get distracted by talk of a title charge.

"I think that the numbers reflect that it (title push) is possible but the only important thing for us is to try to keep inside our thoughts, try to win every game and keep working hard," Pochettino said.

"We are very young and you need to show your strength in all the league. We have the youngest squad in the Premier League. But to speak about the title, it's more important to keep working hard and showing our maturity.

"The most important thing is that we have smart players who are always looking to improve. We must be proud of our players.

"It's very important to keep our feet on the ground. This is the key in football. We have to keep working hard and behave in the same way that we started in the league six months ago.

"But we have to continue showing this maturity.

"We showed how to fight and we got a reaction, so we must be proud of our players."

Tottenham continued its march to the top thanks to substitute South Korea forward Son Heung-min's 89th-minute winner.

The visitors had led via Erik Lamela before Watford striker Odion Ighalo struck in the first half for his sixth goal in as many games.

 Van Gaal vows to fight through Utd uncertainty

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (left) and Chelsea's Kurt Zouma fight for the ball in the English Premier League match at Old Trafford on Monday. Phil Noble / Livepic / Reuters

(China Daily 12/30/2015 page22)

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