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Players stand by Van Gaal

Barcelona: Barcelona defender Carles Puyol says that his team mates are fully behind the club’s decision to retain Louis van Gaal as coach.

“It was the right decision,” Puyol told a Barcelona-based sports daily on Tuesday. “All the players support the boss and I believe it is the best way forward for the club.”

Before last weekend’s league match against Real Mallorca van Gaal had been under intense pressure following a dismal run of domestic results.

The press had speculated that the Dutchman would be fired unless the team won the match in Mallorca and would almost certainly be replaced by Argentine coach Carlos Bianchi, who they said was waiting in the wings.

But a comfortable 4-0 win over the islanders, who played with nine men for the last hour of the game after to two first-half sendings off, eased the pressure on Van Gaal and persuaded the club to confirm him in his post.

Bianchi has since decided to return to Boca Juniors, although he accepted the offer only after Barcelona reaffirmed their faith in Van Gaal.

Barcelona have announced that they are looking into the possibility of strengthening their squad when the transfer window opens on January 1.

Van Gaal could be in the hunt for a striker to partner Patrick Kluivert up front and a left back to bolster an injury-plagued defence. The Catalan press have speculated that Chelsea’s Dutch centre-forward Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is top of the club’s target list. (Reuters)

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