By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Louis van Gaal has shrugged off the possibility of being replaced as Manchester United manager amid growing speculation that he will be replaced by Jose Mourinho in the summer.
The Dutchman claims he “cannot imagine” that United chief Ed Woodward and Mourinho have held talks but admits it is only “professional” to be targeting a new boss now if they are placing a change at the end of the season.
As revealed by Football Insider, Mourinho has been offered a three-year contract worth £48million by United, who are confident of reaching an agreement with him this month to be their new manager.
In an interview with the Independent, Van Gaal has addressed the question of whether the United hierarchy is preparing to replace him with Mourinho, his one-time protégé from his time as Barcelona manager.
“I have not said that we have spoken, but he [Mourinho] is my friend, so there you go,” Van Gaal said. “But I don’t know if Manchester United have spoken with Mourinho or not.
“I can only say that I have spoken with [United’s executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward and I cannot imagine that they have spoken with each other. I think that if they speak with another manager, they would tell me because our relationship is like that. But I think that, if they want to change, they have to prepare themselves. That is also a professional attitude, in my opinion.”
After two-and-a-half decades in top level management, Van Gaal is pragmatic about the nature of his business, but he insists he is comfortable with the trust he has built up with Woodward and United’s owners, the Glazer family.
“If they are thinking that they want to replace me, they have to prepare and they have to enquire, that is what I think,” Van Gaal said. “But if it is like that, they have to say it to me. And I believe they will tell me if it is like that. I not only have a strong relationship with Ed, but also with the Glazers. I have a good feeling with the Glazers also.
“And that is why I am annoyed with all the publicity. I have been ‘sacked’ three times and now it is about negotiations starting with Jose Mourinho. The next time, it will be another [manager].”