Louis van Gaal hints he could resign before he is sacked by Manchester United after Stoke defeat

Van Gaal said 'it is not always the club that has to sack me' after seeing his side suffer a fourth straigh loss in the 2-0 defeat by Stoke

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Louis van Gaal has hinted that he could resign before he is sacked by Manchester United, with the manager reacting negatively to the 2-0 defeat by Stoke that sees their Premier League title challenge in danger of collapsing before the turn of the year.

With Chelsea up next on Monday, Van Gaal knows defeat is not an option with pressure already on the Dutchman to end United’s seven-match winless streak, with their last four games ending with United on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Van Gaal admitted that while he faces a fight to keep his job, he could yet resign and will seek talks with the club’s board before making his decision.

"That is something I discuss with [executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward not you," Van Gaal said.

"It is not always the club that has to fire or sack me."

He added: "Sometimes I do that by myself, but I am the one who wants to speak first with the board of Manchester United and my members of staff and my players, not with you.

"I have received [the club's backing] all the time but we have lost so there is a new situation.

"I feel the support of my players and my board. The fans will be disappointed but that is logical after four defeats."

United have seen their Premier League title challenge fall apart after being eliminated from the Champions League at the start of the month, and the run has seen Van Gaal’s future thrown into serious doubt. Having reacted furiously to reports that he could be sacked before New Year’s Day, the latest defeat will do nothing to help convince United’s board that the Dutchman is the right man to lead the side.

As The Independent revealed last week, former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is determined to work at United should Van Gaal be sacked, and that prospect looks as likely as it ever has following the loss at the Britannia, which came after first-half goals from Bojan and Marko Arnautovic.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Van Gaal admitted: "It's more difficult because I'm also a part of the four matches that we have lost. People are looking at me and I have to deal with that, but much more important is that the players have to deal with that because they have to perform."

Asked about his future, he added: "It's another situation. We have lost the fourth game so you have to wait and see."

Van Gaal admitted that the first-half performance was nowhere near the standard he demands from his players, but while the second half was a step up, it still fell well short from where United are expected to be.

"My thoughts are that we don't dare to play football in first half. We gave a very bad goal away and then they score out of a free-kick indirect,” he said.

"At half-time we have spoken with each other and I have to say the second half was much better but still we have created one or two chances and then you have to score and then maybe the belief is coming back. In the second half we played better but the problem is we don't dare to play and that's my analysis.

"I'm always very faithful and I see also how (the players) have trained so they want to perform well but the circumstances are difficult, not only the wind but also with the pressure and that's why, in my opinion, we don't dare to play football. Second half we were in a losing position and we can give everything more easily and that we have done but then you have to score the first chance."