Under-fire Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has proclaimed he doesn't feel threatened about speculation Pep Guardiola is on his way to "sniff the culture of England." Plus, the Red Devils chief has commented on Adnan Januzaj's return to the club.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie against Sheffield United on Saturday, the Dutchman insisted talk of Guardiola's move to England from Bayern Munich doesn't affect him, per the Mirror's David McDonnell:
It’s not for sure he will be the manager of a Premier League club next season.
I’m at the end of my career, so for me it’s not so interesting. For me it’s interesting how I take care of Manchester United, and after this season I still have one year to go.
I said that [what my goals are] when I came here. I still have the same goals. I have received a contract of three years and these are same goals as when I came here.
I said that two years ago [that Guardiola would come to England]. It’s not so strange, you have to set always your goals, as a manager also.
Van Gaal arrived in the English top flight at the latter end of his career, but Guardiola looks poised to make the swap far earlier in his management days. Anthony Jepson of the Manchester Evening News reported Manchester City look set to land his signature at the end of this season.
According to the United boss, it's only natural he and others like him wish to get a taste of the Premier League, but he doesn't feel Guardiola's announcement regarding his Bayern exit changes his situation at all:
Some people might look at that a little bit strangely, but managers have ambitions to and he wants to sniff the culture of England.
I wanted that also and I think that it’s very good he wants to do that, and I don’t think it will have an impact on his club. Every manager has that right to announce that [his intention to leave at a certain point].
What's more, Manchester City will have to first part ways with incumbent Manuel Pellegrini if they wish to appoint a new boss, and Van Gaal was sure to point out the clash in timing, per Metro's Chris Winterburn:
Van Gaal on Pep, "It is not for sure he will manager in the PL next year, clubs have managers under contract."— Chris Winterburn (@Chriswin4) January 8, 2016
The Red Devils boss also commented on the swift return of Januzaj, who made it just halfway through a season-long loan at Borussia Dortmund before returning to his parent club this past week.
Januzaj failed to make a single Bundesliga start for the Black and Yellows before making the decision to move back to Manchester, but Van Gaal is confident the youngster can take advantage of his "second chance," per McDonnell:
It’s more or less the same as we have done with Will Keane, for example.
They are coming to us to ask for a second chance, and Manchester United is a club who takes care of all their players.
I think it’s a very good habit to do that and I believe in the talent of Adnan Januzaj, I have said that also, and I have said already that it would be difficult for him to play matches at Dortmund. Unfortunately I was right.
When he doesn’t play there too much, he can train better with us and maybe he can play in the first team.
Although the winger failed to fit in as a first-team asset at the Westfalenstadion, there's no reason to suggest the four months away won't have been of use to the player.
Van Gaal stated Januzaj could be in line to feature for United as early as next week, too, but he has to illustrate his fitness with the reserves before he can fit back into the senior setup:
He has been tested already this morning, he didn’t play so much 90 minutes, only pre-season, and he has to show his fitness in the second team and then we also have to see if the paperwork is alright and if he can play in the second-team on Monday. He is fit to play, and that is also very good, then he can show his quality.
Januzaj did make three start for the German outfit in the UEFA Europa League, but it seems Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel has sufficient resources to get by without the Belgian.
In any case, some United fans may be glad to see Januzaj back on home borders, as it means the injury-hit squad at least have one more familiar face around capable of providing cover out wide.