Louis van Gaal is ready to stand down as Manchester United manager a year before the end of his contract this summer, according to reports in the UK media.
The Daily Mirror are among those reporting that 64-year-old Van Gaal is considering bringing down the curtain on his decorated coaching career in May, with sources in Holland suggesting the strain of the United job may force him to walk away earlier than anticipated.
Van Gaal has always been adamant that he would remain as United manager until the end of the 2016/17 season, despite a barrage of criticism coming his way from the club’s supporters in recent months.
Yet he did hint he was considering resigning as manager over a fraught Christmas period, when the pressure on his position appeared to have reached breaking point.
An improvement in results – if not performances – has eased the strain on Van Gaal for now and last Sunday’s 1-0 win against Liverpool at Anfield ended fresh rumours that position at the club is under immediate threat.
Yet the suggestion that he would consider leaving United ahead of schedule will spark fresh rumours that sacked Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has been lined up to replace him.
United officials have been adamant for several weeks that they have no interest in hiring Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola, who is widely expected to replace Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City next summer.
While reports last week claimed Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone and Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino are on a shortlist of candidates to replace Van Gaal, the name of Mourinho continues to be raised as the most likely successor to the Dutchman who was once his mentor at Barcelona.
Van Gaal will deny any suggestion that he will bring forward his retirement from the game, with the decision over whether he remains at United beyond this season likely to be dictated by results and performances of his team in the final months of this season.