Former Manchester United manager, Louis Van Gaal, who announced his retirement from football management recently has hit out at his former employers for the way he was sacked, while also saying PSG star Angel Di Maria is to blame for his form at United. He also said interim manager Sle Gunnar Solskjaer’s team play the same way with Jose Mourinho.
There was a report on Monday that Manchester United are ready to offer interim manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer the job permanently, after leading the Red Devils on a good run of 14 wins in 19 matches, most especially the historic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League, coming from two goals down in the first leg at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal, who was in the Old Trafford hotseat for two years, has acknowledged that Solskjaer has been successful but believes his style of play is no different to his predecessor’s. ‘The coach after me [Mourinho] changed to park-the-bus tactics and played on the counter. Now there is another coach who parks the bus and plays on the counter. The main difference between Mourinho and Solskjaer is that Solskjaer is winning,’ the Dutchman told the BBC.
‘I am not there but there does look to be a change and the atmosphere seems to be better. It is also true that Solskjaer has changed Paul Pogba’s position and put him into an area where he is much more important. But the way Manchester United are playing now is not the way [Sir Alex] Ferguson played. It is defensive, counter-attacking football. If you like it, you like it. If you think it is more exciting than my boring attacking, OK. But it is not my truth.’
After Manchester United came back from two goals down against PSG, Van Gaal believes they can go far in the competition, despite being drawn against Barcelona in the quarterfinal, but says if they do, it will be down to Mourinho. ‘They can win the Champions League because they play a defensive system and it is very difficult to beat them, which, whether you like it or not, is the result of Mourinho’s work.’
Louis van Gaal also hit back at criticism from Angel Di Maria over the manager’s handling of him while the pair were at Manchester United. The Dutch gaffer splashed out £60million on the Argentina international in 2014, but Di Maria lasted only one season, making 32 appearances, before moving on to Paris Saint-Germain.
The winger had accused van Gaal of failing to get the best out of him by using him in the wrong positions, but the Dutchman insisted the issue lay with Di Maria. Van Gaal told BBC Sport: ‘Di Maria says it was my problem. I played him in every attacking position. You can check that. He never convinced me in any of those positions. He could not deal with the continuous pressure on the ball in the Premier League. That was his problem.’
The retired football manager also reflected on his time at OId Trafford and hit out at Manchester United director, Ed Woodward on how he contacted Jose Mourinho, months before his sack, without speaking to him about it, saying it made him feel like he had ‘a noose round my neck’.
Van Gaal said: ‘I can imagine Woodward chooses Mourinho. He is a top coach. He has won a lot of titles. More than me. What I don’t like is Woodward contacting my successor, knowing in his mind he will replace me and he keeps his mouth shut for six months. Every Friday I had to go into press conferences and be asked what I thought about the rumours. What does that do to the authority of the coach?’
Van Gaal bowed out as United manager by winning the FA Cup at Wembley, defeating Crystal Palace 2-1 after extra time. ‘To win the FA Cup when, for six months, the media has a noose round my neck, is my biggest achievement. I spoke to Woodward the day after that game. His argument was that I was only going to be there for one more year and Mourinho would be there for three, four or five. I appreciate he hired a private plane to get me back to Portugal but his arguments were not good enough,’ Van Gaal said