LONDON (Reuters) – Prickly Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal walked out of his pre-match news conference after five minutes on Wednesday after calling on the assembled media to apologise for their treatment of him.
The experienced Dutchman, in his second season in charge of England’s biggest club, is favourite to become the next managerial casualty in the Premier League after his side’s six-match winless streak in all competitions.
After taking training at United’s Carrington training complex, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stoke City, a po-faced Van Gaal went on the attack, before inviting journalists to enjoy the press room mince pies and saying “goodbye”.
Asked if he agreed with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s opinion that his treatment by sections of the media had been “disrespectful”, Van Gaal said: “Has anyone in this room not got a feeling to apologise to me? Nobody has that feeling? That’s what I’m wondering?
“I think I was already reading I had been sacked,” he continued, referring to mounting speculation that Jose Mourinho, sacked by champions Chelsea last Thursday, was poised to replace him in the United hot seat.
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Van Gaal said this week’s stories suggesting he would be lucky to last through the busy holiday fixture list had affected his wife, children and grandchildren as well as the Manchester United fans.
“Do you think that I want to talk with the media now?” the 64-year-old said, glaring at the assembled throng.
“I’m here only because of the Premier League rule. I have to talk to you, but I can see that I only have to say something and you use my words in your context.
“I want to say only that I have tried to lift the confidence of my players I have done everything this week. I held meetings, evaluation meetings with my players and members of staff.
“I held the Christmas lunch, I made a speech and I felt the warmth and the support of everybody at Carrington, at this training complex but I didn’t feel that in the media.”
United were booed at half time and full time when they lost 2-1 to struggling Norwich City last weekend, a second consecutive league defeat that meant they slipped out of the Premier League’s top four.
“Of course I can imagine you can write about that subject. We are not in a good position but four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League, and in about four weeks we can be again back in that position,” he said.
Accusing the media of not sticking to the facts and “creating soemthing that is not good” Van Gaal said: “And now I have to answer questions? I don’t think I want to do it.”
“I only say now that I’m focussed on Stoke City, I help my players, I wish you a Merry Christmas and maybe a Happy New Year when I see you, enjoy the wine and maybe a mince pie, goodbye,” before getting up and walking out.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman)