Beleaguered Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal returned to work on Tuesday as the club dismissed talk of him having offered to quit after Saturday’s 1-0 home loss to Southampton.
Reports emerged late on Monday suggesting the Dutchman spoke to United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward about his future immediately after the Premier League contest at the weekend.
Within that, there were some claims Van Gaal had offered his resignation – but United on Tuesday denied that was the case.
Meanwhile, the 64-year-old was back at the club’s Aon Training Complex in Carrington after two days off for him and the players that were always scheduled, and during which he is understood to have been with his family in Holland.
Amid the intense speculation about his position and with him reportedly set for further discussions this week with Woodward, who was not in Manchester on Tuesday, Van Gaal has United’s next game to think about.
That is Friday’s FA Cup fourth-round trip to Derby, where a poor result – or even just a lacklustre performance – against the Championship side is only likely to increase the scrutiny on, and anger from United fans towards, Van Gaal, should he still be in his job by then.
Loud boos rang around Old Trafford following the final whistle of Saturday’s game as Van Gaal endured what he later described as the worst reaction he has heard from United supporters during his time in charge.
He also said they were “right to boo” and added: “I’m very disappointed that I cannot reach the expectations of the fans.
“They have – or they had – great expectations of me, and I cannot fulfil them.”
The Red Devils, whose style of play has frequently been criticised, had just one shot on target during the defeat.
They are five points off the Premier League’s top four in fifth place, 10 points behind leaders Leicester, and have won only three of their last 13 matches in all competitions, a sequence which has included seeing them exit the Champions League.
The message understood to be coming from the board early on during that run of results was one of full support for Van Gaal, but it will be interesting to see how things develop from here.