Louis van Gaal has bowed to player pressure in an attempt to keep his job at Manchester United. The beleaguered United boss has agreed to relax the strict regime that has proved so unpopular among his squad following a meeting with senior players Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Chris Smalling and Juan Mata at the start of the week. Van Gaal still has the support of the players but recognised an urgent need for change after seeing United lose three games in a row. The run has plunged his future at Old Trafford into doubt as he prepares for their Boxing Day trip to Stoke City.
In return, the 64-year-old Dutchman has challenged his stars to be responsible and show that the less regimented approach is having an effect on the pitch, with United desperate for a first win in seven games. Following the meeting, Van Gaal agreed to be less rigid in his management style, letting the players have more say in how things are run at the club’s Carrington training base and in the build-up to games. The new system came into effect on Wednesday and had an immediate impact with the squad allowed to set their own training schedule for Christmas Day. Instead of coming into Carrington between 1pm and 5pm to prepare for the Stoke game as planned, United’s players trained in the morning and spent the rest of the day with their families before reporting to the Lowry Hotel the night before the game. The rule change even extends to the canteen with players no longer forced to adhere to strict meal times and conditions. They are not required to eat together as a group like before, with individual players free to have breakfast and lunch when it suits them.