Louis van Gaal is thankful for Sir Alex Ferguson’s support but well aware that failing to finish the campaign with a flourish will put his Manchester United future in jeopardy.
This has been yet another frustrating campaign for the 20-time league champions, with inconsistent, and often underwhelming, displays meaning Champions League qualification and FA Cup success is the best they can hope for.
It is a far cry from the successes enjoyed during Ferguson’s tenure, but the former United boss this week defended Van Gaal and urged fans to be patient during the club’s current tribulations.
The Dutchman was thankful for that support, along with “remarkable” backing from the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, managing director Richard Arnold and director David Gill.
Van Gaal knows that support can only go so far, though, and is aware his position will come under further scrutiny if they fail to finish in the top four.
“I cannot say (I will be here if we fail to make the top four) because I think the board has to evaluate after the results of this year what they have to do,” the United boss said.
“I think that is normal and I cannot predict that when I do not know the facts.
“First you have to see the facts, I have always said that. The results and also the titles or the Champions League positions, you can only say at the May 15 ‘yes, it is like that or like that’.
“Then you have to evaluate the circumstances how I had to work in the season. An example of that is in the interview of Sir Alex.
“I am a rational person. I know that a manager of Manchester United has to win something, but I am still working on that.”
Van Gaal says “every match counts” now for United, who welcome Everton to Old Trafford on Sunday buoyed by their victory at rivals Manchester City.
It means they head into the final eight games of the Premier League campaign sixth in the standings, just a point off fourth-placed City, and with an FA Cup quarter-final replay at West Ham on the horizon.
Asked if he would be surprised to be let go if United fail to make the top four, Van Gaal said: “I cannot say that because I do not know the next eight matches.
“You can only evaluate when you have the total facts and now I cannot say that and my board cannot say that neither because we have to play matches still.
“Also we have to play against West Ham United, then Everton and then the final.”
Winning the FA Cup would mean more to Van Gaal than reaching the top four, although the United boss knows that opinion is not shared by the board.
They resume the competition at Upton Park in their quarter-final replay on April 13 – a date that only recently got firmed up due to Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Paris St Germain.
That match will see Angel di Maria return to a city where his arrival in August 2014 was met by much excitement, only to depart United after one ill-fated campaign.
Van Gaal’s side broke the British transfer record on the Argentina winger, who claimed in an interview on Friday that he was unable to settle due to being played out of position.
“I have never seen (many) players who looks at himself, who looks to the way they have performed here and that is always the fault of the manager,” Van Gaal said.
“So he is one of the players who are in the row of players who have no self-criticism and, unfortunately, it is also my life as a manager. It is always like that.”