MANCHESTER. — Manchester United training was cancelled on Sunday and yesterday after boss Louis van Gaal flew home to Holland.
Van Gaal is on the brink of losing his job after it emerged that executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has canvassed senior players about the Manchester United manager’s methods.
And Bookmaker Williams Hill has cut its odds to 2/5 that Van Gaal will be the next English Premier League soccer manager to leave his post after Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Southampton.
“For the first time, even Louis Van Gaal has admitted that he has failed and if he is not pushed, he could well walk,” William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said yesterday.
“The fans have — or they had — great expectations of me, and I cannot fulfil them, so I am very frustrated because of that,” Van Gaal said after his team’s sixth league loss of the season.
Van Gaal is also 6/1 to part company with United before their next game, an FA Cup fourth-round clash at Derby County on Friday, with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho an even-money favourite to replace the Dutchman.
The manager was left ashen-faced after the chastening defeat by Southampton at Old Trafford on Saturday and his future at the club now looks extremely bleak.
Van Gaal sounded like a beaten man on Saturday before jetting off, telling players and staff not to travel to Carrington for their standard running drills the day after a game.
The 64-year-old is in Holland for his daughter’s birthday and, while it cannot be helped, the timing is inauspicious.
The Dutch coach has accepted that he is failing to match the expectations of the Manchester United fans.
On Saturday, Charlie Austin’s 87th minute header condemned United to a 1-0 defeat against Southampton at Old Trafford, with Van Gaal targeted by a certain section of supporters at the final whistle.
The defeat has left United in fifth place in the Premier League table, five points off Tottenham in the fourth and final Champions League spot.
With only 15 matches remaining in the season, pressure is mounting on Van Gaal and the Dutchman admits he is struggling to live up to standards demanded by the United faithful.
Speculation about Van Gaal’s future continues with assistant Ryan Giggs the likely first choice if United’s Dutch manager does depart.
The decision to cancel Sunday and yesterday’s sessions is a surprise — even given Van Gaal’s short break away. The light hour’s work on the day following a game has been a staple of the Dutchman’s reign since he took over from David Moyes in 2014.
United do not play until Friday night when they take on Derby County in the FA Cup fourth round, but supporters may be wondering why their manager is not intent on correcting the weekend’s ills straight away.
It was their fifth defeat in 10 games and leaves them five points adrift of the Champions League qualification spots. That they were unable to capitalise on the win at Liverpool was particularly galling for fans, who saw away goalkeeper Fraser Forster make just one save all afternoon.
United have recorded the fewest number of home shots on target, 35, of any team in the entire Football League and have not scored a first-half goal in 11 matches in front of their own supporters.
Van Gaal admitted to have failed to meet expectations at United, solemnly declaring supporters have every right to be angry at him.
They furiously booed him down the tunnel on Saturday, with executive vice-chairman Woodward watching keenly from the directors’ box.
Woodward has canvassed senior players about the manager’s methods following a wretched run of form. Van Gaal has lost the support of the majority of the players in the dressing room and the increasingly desperate situation is forcing United’s hand.
“I’m very disappointed that I cannot reach the expectations of the fans,’ the manager said. They have — or they had — great expectations of me, and I cannot fulfil them, so I am very frustrated. I agree with them, so it doesn’t have any impact (on me). They have knowledge of football, of entertaining football, and you have to play football to entertain the fans. Today I don’t think we have entertained the fans, so they can be very angry.”
Talk is growing of the next role for Giggs around the club, with a school of thought still that he is the man to be Van Gaal’s successor. — Mailonline.