Louis van Gaal has dismissed reports suggesting Manchester United are in talks to appoint Jose Mourinho as his successor next season, dubbing the claims "nonsense."
The Red Devils manager also stressed he intends to reach his objectives with United this season while stating he doesn't doubt his own abilities.
Speaking ahead of United's trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Mourinho's old club, Chelsea, Van Gaal said he doesn't believe the current rumours regarding the man he once worked with at Barcelona, per a Saturday report by John Richardson of the Express:
“I know that there has been such a lot of nonsense created around me but I can’t believe that there is already a relationship with Jose Mourinho and Manchester United.”
Van Gaal was responding to reports the Old Trafford club have been meeting with Mourinho's representatives about a potential deal. BBC Sport's Dan Roan and Simon Stone reported on Friday that talks have started, but they stressed "no agreement has been reached."
Meanwhile, Miguel Delaney wrote on Saturday in the Independent that Mourinho "is growing increasingly sure" he'll be in charge at United next season. The three-time Premier League winner even told Jason Barlow of GQ that he intends to be back in management soon, also indicating he'll still work in England.
For his part, though, Van Gaal is content to try to rise above the mounting speculation, at least for as long as he can. That won't be easy, despite the Red Devils enjoying a mini revival since the turn of the year.
Van Gaal's men have won three league matches and progressed to the fifth round of this season's FA Cup. This form has prompted Van Gaal to state that belief is growing within his squad, according to Sky Sports' Andy Swales: "I think the players have that confidence with them at this moment."
But he's also admitted how his tenure has been tested by United's struggles at different times this season. Referencing a four-game run without a win, Van Gaal revealed how he understood the pressure on his position, per Richardson: “I think the criticism logical when you lose four matches in a row, I have never done that as a manager. Then it is logical that people are doubting you."
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Yet, Van Gaal isn't about to change his ways or question his methods: “I never doubted myself. In the Netherlands they know I am too arrogant for that.”
He also took a shot at the press, insisting certain stories have been fabricated to make him look bad: “Now I have to answer questions that I have hired security for my wife. But I have never hired security, never, never. I am walking on the streets without security."
Van Gaal was referring to an exclusive report from Neil Custis of the Sun that suggested the Dutchman has taken precautions against any possible backlash from angry fans.
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But while rumours of all kinds persist, Van Gaal remains determined to reach this season's objectives at United. He made clear what those are, per Richardson: “It is still the same aim, it’s the Champions League and of course one step higher than last season so third place which we said that at the start of this season.”
Whether that will be enough to keep the man who is still contracted for another season in charge beyond this campaign is another matter. United are currently seven points short of third, and the looming shadow of Mourinho isn't going away.
His track record and high-profile status could be seen as the perfect tonic for a club stuck in a minor transition since winning a last Premier League title in 2013.