Louis van Gaal latest: Manchester United manager offered way out of Old Trafford nightmare

Netherlands manager Danny Blind keen to appoint friend as technical director

Louis van Gaal has a potential escape route if he is forced to leave Manchester United, with Netherlands national coach Danny Blind, one of his closest friends in football, raising the idea of him become technical director for his nation.

Van Gaal’s position is safe for Saturday’s home match against Swansea City and probably the Old Trafford FA Cup tie with Sheffield United a week later. But his future remains uncertain, with Manchester United already five points adrift of fourth place in the Premier League table. Managerless Swansea’s record of four wins in five against United forms the backdrop to a weekend when defeat could see United start to become cut adrift.

Such an outcome would provoke new doubts in Van Gaal about whether he is the man to take the club on, though Blind said the 64-year-old would be an ideal appointment as technical director of the Royal Dutch FA (KNVB).

Blind, who served under Van Gaal at the 2014 World Cup before taking over from Guus Hiddink as Holland failed to qualify for Euro 2016, told Algemeen Dagblad: “With Van Gaal I could achieve a lot. He is in the top category. But there are also many other options to think of where the shoe could fit. I do not know if that will happen. I recently read a comment by Bert van Oostveen [KNVB director of professional football] about [appointing a technical director]. But I have not spoken to him about it personally.”

Van Gaal has declared that United would be his last management role and he was frustrated by the limitations attached to his position after returning to Ajax in a technical director’s position in 2004. But Blind believes an “exciting” job would convince the United manager.

“The key question is: what are the pillars of the work of a technical director?” Blind said. “I have been one myself a couple of times in my career and basically it comes down to a buying and selling policy, but that is at a club, not at the KNVB. It comes to the flow of youth players. You have to offer an exciting job and it must be someone with respect.”

Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel certainly feels that United displayed psychological weakness in Monday’s 0-0 draw between the teams, despite the improvement on previous games ensuring that Van Gaal will fight on to next weekend at least. “I think sometimes you could see in the game that they had chances to attack but were a little bit sceptical, or hesitant,” the Nigerian said.

“Maybe they were a little bit scared... just a bit cautious. 

“Because of the fast players we have up front who can break they were cautious and approached the game not to lose.” 

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Mikel confidently held out the prospect of Chelsea finishing fourth – “I don’t think it’s gone yet” – despite their poor performance at Old Trafford which leaves them 14th in the table. He also said the atmosphere at the club had “improved” since Guus Hiddink replaced Jose Mourinho and was now “fine”.

“Training has changed a bit and we’re doing things differently,” he said. “[Hiddink] hasn’t changed much yet, but he was here before and he knows the place and all the staff. He knows what to do.”

United’s Chris Smalling declared that the club’s squad members were playing for their futures now. The notion of them not playing for the manager was “silly,” he insisted.

“If anything, we are all playing for our own futures as well, so there’s not a case of no one not playing for the manager,” he said. “And every week we want to go out there and show everyone what a good team we are and on our day we can beat anyone.”

 

Smalling indicated that there had been nothing much Van Gaal could say after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Stoke to raise the players, whom he said had not “dared to play” in that game. “I think obviously after the game it was difficult for much to be said and then [it] was literally a case of turning our attentions straight to Chelsea. I think we were quite lucky we had another game straight after and that we could put it right.”

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