Sunderland V Man Utd at Stadium of Light: LIVE

13 February 2016 08:59
Sunderland V Man Utd - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Sam Allardyce believes Louis van Gaal can handle the pressure of speculation

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce believes Manchester United counterpart Louis van Gaal is strong enough to deal with the speculation about his future.

The Dutchman has spent recent weeks angrily denying his job is under threat amid reports that the club has held discussions with potential replacement Jose Mourinho.

Allardyce and Van Gaal will be in opposing dugouts at the Stadium of Light on Saturday as the relegation-threatened Black Cats attempt to secure a first home league victory over a resurgent United for the first time in 14 attempts since March 1997.

However, the Englishman is not expecting his Red Devils counterpart to be distracted by rumours.

He said: "What you have to find out is whether it's true. If you find out whether it's true, then you know where your fate lies.

"You don't always find out whether it's true or not from the owners sometimes, but you have got to try to find out, then you know one way or the other.

"The bigger the club, the bigger the speculation and the more you have to cope, the more coping mechanisms you have to have.

"Louis van Gaal is experienced enough across the whole of Europe to cope with those additional pressures which are thrust upon him at the moment.

"He will be focussed on his team getting yet another result because they are in good form at the moment, so the players are doing his talking for him at the minute and we have obviously got to stop those players performing as they have done recently because they have picked up quite a few wins."

United are fifth in the Barclays Premier League table, six points adrift of fourth-placed rivals Manchester City in fourth - but they have lost only once in nine games in all competitions and that run has coincided with the return to goalscoring form of England skipper Wayne Rooney, who has seven in his last eight appearances.

Allardyce said: "If we are going to get a result, the main reason would be trying to stop Wayne Rooney in the goalscoring form he is in at the moment."

Sunderland remain 19th place, four points shy of safety despite last weekend's battling point at Liverpool, and Allardyce knows they need to start producing something special if they are to dig themselves out of trouble.

He said: "Anybody that we can beat that we are not supposed to beat, it's going to be a shock and a major bonus to us because of our position in the league.

"When you play Manchester United and you can get a win, it's a result unexpected across the board and a massive bonus in your fight against relegation."

Meanwhile, Van Gaal does not know whether he will be at Manchester United next season if he fails to qualify for the Champions League.

"It's not a question for me, it's a question for the board of Manchester United, you have to put it to them," he said.

"I have a contract for three years and you know that."

Van Gaal insists he has no problem with United's failure to back him publicly.

Speculation has been swirling around Van Gaal ever since United slipped out of the top four and exited the Champions League.

Unlike when David Moyes was under pressure, United have failed to intimate that Van Gaal has their backing.

Some have taken that as a sign that Van Gaal has lost the faith of the board and that they are considering replacing him with Jose Mourinho.

But Van Gaal says he does not mind that the club have not made a statement backing him.

"I am not agreeing with that," the Dutchman said when asked if he was disappointed about any lack of public backing from the club.

"Because I have said many times that not all the media, but a lot of media, is inventing stories and you don't have to answer on invented stories.

"I agree with this policy of the club."

Victory over Sunderland on Saturday would move United within three points of the Champions League places as the top four are all playing the following day.

Unfortunately for Van Gaal, eight of his players are absent through injury.

Long-term absentees Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ashley Young remain sidelined while Phil Jones, Adnan Januzaj and Guillermo Varela all suffered injuries in the under-21s' 7-0 win over Norwich on Monday.

Will Keane, who scored five goals on Monday, is in the squad.

Source: PAR