Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal told the assembled media on Friday ahead of the club’s final game of the season that he thinks David De Gea will still stay at Old Trafford.rc="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js">
The Spanish goalkeeper has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks, with Real Madrid apparently keen on the 24-year-old, per Jeremy Cross of the Daily Star. But as noted here by Paul Hirst of the Associated Press, the Dutchman was confident the club’s Player of the Year would stay:
Van Gaal also provided key updates on the fitness of both Wayne Rooney and De Gea on the brink of the clash with Hull City on Sunday.
Encouragingly for United, per MUTV (via the team’s official Twitter feed), Van Gaal revealed that club captain Wayne Rooney will be available for selection at the KC Stadium:
News on De Gea’s fitness wasn’t quite as clear cut, however. “That I don’t know yet,” said the Dutchman when asked whether the Spaniard would feature, per MUTV (via the club’s official website). “He has trained today but only with our goalkeeper trainer. He still has a little problem so I want to wait a day longer because I want him to play against Hull City.”
While United will finish in fourth place this season, barring a mathematical miracle, Van Gaal was in a serious mood when discussing the season finale at the KC Stadium. After all, this is a game Hull must win if they’re to stand any chance of surviving in the Premier League.
Tigers boss Steve Bruce has never beaten a United team as a manager with any of his sides, and although the former Red Devil is held in high regard by the Old Trafford faithful, Van Gaal insisted there’ll be no room for sympathy:
Van Gaal was also asked about what lies ahead for this team. They’ve achieved their primary ambition of finishing in the Champions League spots this season, but given the money that has been spent on this squad—and is likely to be spent in the summer—expectations will be higher for the Dutchman’s second season.
However, Van Gaal confirmed that there’s no rush to deliver a title, revealing he has three years to bring the ultimate prize back to the 20-time English champions, per Simon Bajkowski and Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News:
We have fulfilled our goals set [this season], I think. It was hard because we had a very bad start, so when we improve our start we shall come further and maybe it is close enough to be the champion or we have to battle for it.
I have received the time of three years to achieve that [the title], but of course I want to achieve it as soon as possible. We could have won it also this year, I believe. We had a very bad start and because of that, we were behind Manchester City and Chelsea.
Another topic everyone was desperate to hear about was Van Gaal’s superb speech at the club’s end of season awards dinner. When asked about what may have been hazy memories of his time on stage, the United boss insisted it’s simply part of who he is:
The 63-year-old also revealed that there are players in the squad who will find out soon whether or not they have a long-term future at Old Trafford. Van Gaal said he intends to discuss this with the relevant personnel after the conclusion of this season, following a “farewell drink,” per the Manchester Evening News report: “You know that I shall talk with them maybe tomorrow, we’ll have a farewell drink. After the match, I have the Monday to talk, I have spoken to some players this week. You have to wait and see how these talks develop in terms of players staying or going.”
Van Gaal has done plenty to endear himself to not only United fans but supporters across the country. While a veneer of caution typically prevents the top managers around from showing their true colours, the Dutchman’s honesty is refreshing in an age of rundown cliches. Nonetheless, it’s important we start to see United improving under his watch.
There have been green shoots of recovery throughout this campaign, but there are plenty who will be hopeful of the Red Devils rediscovering their swagger next season. As popular as he may be, if Van Gaal cannot facilitate that process, the cutthroat nature of the today’s game will seem him quickly come under pressure.