Man United boss Louis van Gaal: My future is a question for the board
Louis van Gaal deflected questions when asked if he believes he can remain manager of Manchester United next season despite failing to qualify for the Champions League, while saying he is sure his team have the mental strength for the Premier League run-in.
Van Gaal is halfway through an 18-month contract and United are fifth in the Premier League, six points adrift of the top four.
There have been widespread reports that United have been in contact with Jose Mourinho's camp and that the former Chelsea manager wants to take the job at Old Trafford.
But the Dutchman suggested that only executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and owners the Glazers can answer if he will stay at the club.
"It is not a question of me, it is a question of the board and you have to put it to them," he said. "I have a contract for three years."
Van Gaal said he agreed with United, who have not come out and backed him in public, because he claimed suggestions his position in peril are fabricated.
"I have said many, many times that a lot of the media is inventing stories and you don't have to answer invented stories, I agree with this policy of the club."
Asked directly if he believes stories have been invented, Van Gaal replied: "Yes."
Vice-captain Michael Carrick's contract is up in the summer and, asked if he is playing a part in discussions about the 34-year-old midfielder's future, Van Gaal replied: "I am always involved because I am the manager."
Van Gaal also said he believes United can cope with the pressure of their Champions League chase.
United have won five and lost only one of their eight fixtures, and Van Gaal confident his side will not crack under the stress of the run-in.
"At the end of the competition the pressure is raising for everybody and you have to cope with that pressure and Manchester United is more or less used to that pressure," he said in a news conference.
"We are doing great in that perspective, I think, because we have lost four matches in a row in December and when you see us playing now you can only say we are mentally very strong and can cope with the pressure.
"We have to improve our results in consistency and we have to win a lot of matches in a row now because we have to minorise [reduce] the gap with our competitors."
United are away at Sunderland on Saturday but with the top-four teams facing each other on Sunday, when Arsenal host Leicester and Tottenham visit Manchester City, they have the chance to make up ground.
"First you have to win by yourself and then you look at your competitors but we know they have to play against each other so it is sure some shall lose points," Van Gaal added.
"When you see our results in 2016 if we have that [for the] whole season, we are the champion. We have to show it every week now because of the fact the gap is big."