It wasn’t long ago that the knives were out for Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.
All that has changed, however, following a string of excellent - not to mention unexpected - run of results in the Premier League.
What looked set to be United’s most troublesome period of the entire season actually turned out to be their most straight-forward - successive wins over Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City catapulted them into the top three, and qualification for next season’s Champions League campaign now looks a certainty, even after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea.
Van Gaal has another two years left to run on his Manchester United contract, and many fans would be delighted if the veteran Dutch coach opted to extend his current deal beyond 2017.
But Van Gaal’s latest comments suggest there’s every chance he will walk away from Old Trafford in two years’ time, when he will be approaching his 66th birthday.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach believes his assistant Ryan Giggs, who has impressed the Dutchman since last summer, will be the man who replaces him at Old Trafford.
To read Van Gaal’s quotes - and to read today’s other top football-related headlines - scroll down this page.
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Van Gaal names Giggs as his successor
As well as the speculation surrounding the future of Louis van Gaal, there were also strong rumours that he didn’t see eye-to-eye with Ryan Giggs a few months ago.
Van Gaal batted away these suggestions as pure nonsense - as did Giggs - and the fact the former has tipped the latter to succeed him underlines that the pair have an excellent working relationship.
“I expect that he [Giggs] will be the next manager after I am gone,” Van Gaal told MUTV, according to the Guardian. “Now I have the responsibility. He has tasks that he has to perform like the players. What he has to do, for me, he does it very well.”
Earlier this month Van Gaal told reporters Giggs could potentially emulate Jose Mourinho, but do Manchester United fans feel the same way?
Should Ryan Giggs be appointed as Manchester United’s next manager? Have your say in the comments below!
Wenger reveals why Arsenal did not sign Hazard
Ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League match against champions-elect Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Arsene Wenger has been speaking about the opposition’s star man Eden Hazard.
Wenger admits he has no regrets about not signing the world-class Belgium international, who is poised to win the PFA Player of the Year award following an outstanding season at Stamford Bridge, because Arsenal simply couldn’t afford him.
“I have no big regrets because - at the time - there was so much financially, so much money involved we could not afford it,” Wenger told reporters on Friday, according to the Daily Mail. “And (I could) not defend it, honestly.
“It was linked with all the environment. It was not feasible for us financially.”
Hazard eventually joined Chelsea in a deal worth £32 million. Arsenal have since paid higher transfer fees for two players: Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
Should Wenger have convinced Arsenal to break the bank for Eden Hazard? Have your say by leaving a comment below!
Rodgers casts doubt over Sturridge’s Liverpool future
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has cast doubt over the future of star striker Daniel Sturridge, hinting he needs a forward who can play at a “top level every week”
Sturridge has been plagued by injuries this season, limiting him to just 12 Premier League appearances.
And Rodgers, whose own future at Anfield is in doubt, told reporters that he needs another striker who can stay fit for an entire campaign.
“I am not sure (how many strikers I need), but I need one that is going to be playing and at a top level every week,” Rodgers was quoted as saying by the Express. “He (Sturridge) is not fit and once he can show that consistency and fitness, you can see in his performance level that it’s a high one.
“But obviously he has missed lot of the season so we need to assess it. But either way if he’s not available, we need to have that support
“There always is that risk with those type of players with their speed and body type, but we have to hope with Daniel Sturridge this year was just an unlucky season and he can come back super-fit and super-strong because he has an immense talent.
“You can’t argue with that. He can be as good as any striker in the world with his talent.”
Do Liverpool need another top-class striker? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!