Louis van Gaal is set for talks on his Manchester United future on Tuesday amid fresh reports he offered to quit on Saturday.
The Dutchman, according to widespread reports on Tuesday, offered to resign in the wake of Saturday’s hugely-disappointing home defeat to Southampton but was persuaded to discuss his future with his family over a mini break back in the Netherlands over Sunday and Monday.
Van Gaal is expected to hold training with United as usual on Tuesday morning before holding fresh talks with Woodward after lunch.
At the meeting Woodward and Van Gaal will discuss the way forward but it is possible the manager could yet insist it is best for the club if he leaves.
Van Gaal admitted publicly for the first time on Saturday he had failed the United supporters, his comments coming after boos had accompanied him from the field at the end of the 1-0 defeat. It was the first open revolt against him from inside Old Trafford and, because Van Gaal has often cited fans’ backing as a prime factor in his hunger for the job, it moved him to make the offer to resign to Woodward.
The 64-year-old did so in calm fashion and it is a measure of Van Gaal’s loyalty to Woodward that he agreed to think again. He then returned to the Netherlands for his daughter’s birthday.
Woodward also wanted time to digest the defeat and assess the situation because he is keen to avoid having to appoint a manager in the middle of the season. He would much rather wait until the summer to make that decision, should he have to. He also wants to gauge Van Gaal’s mood on his return but, should United lose to Derby County in the FA Cup on Friday, the two may come to an agreement that the manager should walk away.
Woodward is solely responsible for Van Gaal’s future and who will manage United in the long term. Sir Alex Ferguson, the club’s most successful manager who is now a director, has no knowledge of Woodward’s thinking regarding Van Gaal. Woodward talks daily with Joe Glazer, the joint-chairman, and the American family will back Woodward whatever he decides.
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Van Gaal’s job has been reviewed by Woodward on a game-by-game basis after he came close to losing it following the 2-0 Boxing Day defeat at Stoke City, which was a fourth consecutive reverse and a seventh match without a win.
Although the next result, two days later, was a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford the side’s determination to attack throughout allowed renewed optimism. It was the start of a five-game unbeaten run, yet during this sequence United, apart from a 3-3 draw at Newcastle United, again failed to take the initiative in most matches.
If Van Gaal is sacked or walks away, Woodward will have plenty to ponder over who replaces him. Jose Mourinho, who left Chelsea in December, remains a candidate to take over because United believe Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola is destined for Manchester City in the summer. They could yet make a move for the Spaniard, who has not revealed where he will be managing next season. Ryan Giggs, the United No 2, is another option but most likely on an interim basis.