Man United board concerned by player unrest over Louis van Gaal - sources

Manchester United are increasingly concerned about disenchantment with Louis van Gaal's managerial approach among the players and will discuss the situation just before the January transfer window, sources have told ESPN FC.

ESPN FC has been told that some senior members of the squad have even privately complained to club officials about the restrictive style of play and Van Gaal's strict nature.

Recent United briefings to English newspapers had indicated that the club's support for the Dutchman remained emphatic but Old Trafford sources have repeatedly insisted to ESPN FC that was never a unanimous view among club officials, and that some senior figures have doubted him for weeks.

That doubt has only grown in the last nine days, as United were eliminated from the Champions League by Wolfsburg and then lost to Bournemouth to make it five games without a win.

The uncreative nature of the football has been a growing concern, given how little response it is getting from the players. It is not just that United have been failing to win, but they have so rarely looked like winning.

Sources say that even some players who had previously enjoyed Van Gaal's approach, and felt he kept them on their toes in the way Sir Alex Ferguson had, have now completely turned against the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.

One core group of squad members is said to be especially unhappy as they feel that Van Gaal is completely uninterested in any feedback about how to get more out of the club's attacking players and have been utterly baffled by some decisions.

Sources say the board did want to back the manager with more big buys over the January transfer window -- with particular focus on the need to bring in a goal scorer -- but there is now debate among the hierarchy over whether that would just see a squad increasingly built to Van Gaal's specifications, when there could yet be a summer change of manager.

At the same time, there is a realisation that the right buy could greatly boost the club's chances of winning the title this season, given the open nature of the title race.

One source spoke of how that alone illustrates the curiosity of the situation, given that United have played poorly, scored infrequently and have been knocked out of Europe but are still within touching distance of winning the league.

ESPN FC was told at the weekend United have intensified their pursuit of Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola, although there is the growing feeling his next job will be at Manchester City.

Guardiola has confirmed he will announce next week whether he plans to stay on at Bayern beyond the end of the season.