Manchester United want Louis van Gaal to carry on as their manager next season despite growing discontent among their fans and the likely availability next summer of Europe’s No 1 managerial target, Pep Guardiola.
United were booed off at Old Trafford on Saturday after their fifth goalless draw in nine matches against West Ham. Their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League rest on negotiating a tricky game in Wolfsburg on Tuesday.
But the club insist they have no plans to replace the 64-year-old Dutchman who has 18 months of a three-year contract left to run.
The long-term plan at Old Trafford remains for Van Gaal to continue until the summer of 2017 and then give assistant Ryan Giggs a chance to step up.
United’s Premier League standing is of paramount performance to the club’s board and despite criticism from former players, including Paul Scholes, about the team’s style, Van Gaal has taken them from seventh place in the season before he joined into the top four.
The manager, who has said he would walk away from the job if he felt the United players weren’t embracing his philosophy, admitted his frustration at the fans chanting ‘Attack, attack, attack’ against the Hammers.
‘I don’t understand it because we were the attacking team and not West Ham,’ he said.
‘That is not only today but every game is like that because we are always more dominating than our opponents.
‘When I meet the fans on the street, they are very happy with Manchester United and me, but you have to score goals.
‘My opinion about scoring goals is not only compulsion but also a lot of luck. I am not so worried, but we have to pass over this period because it is too long that we don’t score.’
United’s powerbrokers are currently more interested in Premier League results than progress in the Champions League, even though losing in Wolfsburg on Tuesday would still be a blow.
Intriguingly, Guardiola is almost certain to leave Bayern when his three-year deal in Germany finishes at the end of this season.
He has been linked with jobs at Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and United. And although he has a strong relationship with City director of football Txiki Begiristain, he is also enticed by the history and tradition of United.
But United will not press Guardiola to join them this summer unless league results enter a dramatic decline and the club drop out of the top four.
Ahead of the tie in Germany, in which Van Gaal has ruled out Wayne Rooney because of an ankle injury that also kept him out on Saturday, the United manager admits his team are not genuine contenders to be Champions League winners.
‘I don’t think that we are able to win the Champions League now. Maybe next year when we strengthen our selection again.
‘We have to go as far as possible but normally we are not good enough to win the Champions League. When we are there, we shall try to do everything. But you have to be realistic also.’
United have spent at least £250million on players since Van Gaal took over in 2015, topped by £60m for Angel di Maria from Real Madrid — subsequently sold — and Anthony Martial, who cost £36m.