The in­side story of van Gaal’s melt­down

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Louis van Gaal’s two-year reign at Manchester United has come to an end af­ter the Dutch­man lost the re­spect of the dress­ing-room with ec­cen­tric man­age­ment that ex­tended to bru­tal video dis­sec­tion of play­ers’ per­for­mances, crit­i­cal emails to squad mem­bers and the im­po­si­tion of ‘strait­jacket’ foot­ball on the team.

Se­nior play­ers have also grown ex­as­per­ated by the ‘spe­cial treat­ment’ af­forded to Ger­man mid­fielder Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger, who has made just four ap­pear­ances since suf­fer­ing a knee in­jury against Sh­effield United in the FA Cup in Jan­uary.

Van Gaal, who led United to the FA Cup glory with Satur­day’s 2-1 Wem­b­ley vic­tory against Crys­tal Palace, was fired on Mon­day and re­placed by Jose Mour­inho, with the news mak­ing send­ing shock­waves across the world.

The In­de­pen­dent has been made aware that such has been the break­down of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Van Gaal and his play­ers this sea­son, the 64-year-old is un­likely to have sur­vived in charge for the fi­nal year of his three-year con­tract — even if a top four fin­ish had been achieved.

From the first week of Van Gaal’s spell in charge, when he suc­ceeded the sacked David Moyes af­ter guid­ing Hol­land to the semi-fi­nals of the 2014 World Cup, United’s se­nior play­ers have strug­gled to adapt to the rigid de­mands im­posed by the for­mer Ajax, Barcelona and Bay­ern Mu­nich coach.

Hav­ing in­her­ited United’s sum­mer tour of the United States from Moyes, Van Gaal was so an­gered by the ar­range­ments in place - the Bev­erly Hills lo­ca­tion of the team’s Los Angeles ho­tel in re­la­tion to the training camp and venue for the game against LA Galaxy — that a bud­get Hol­i­day Inn was hired for the play­ers to sleep close to the training ground in be­tween morn­ing and af­ter­noon ses­sions.

One source close to the play­ers claims that Van Gaal’s strict regime of ‘training at 8.30, sent to rooms for a cou­ple hours rest, training af­ter lunch, back for video meet­ings and tac­tics dis­cus­sion, back to rooms, sup­per of toast and then bed at half ten -ev­ery day for 14 days’ left the squad shat­tered and ill­pre­pared for the start of the 2014-15 sea­son, which saw United en­dure their worst open­ing to a cam­paign for 25 years.

But it has been Van Gaal’s re­fusal to al­ter his heavy-handed man­age­ment style, honed at Ajax in the mid-1990s,that has led to his in­abil­ity to fos­ter unity be­hind his meth­ods.

Un­der Moyes and Sir Alex Fer­gu­son, the first-team would reg­u­larly be given a day off on a Mon­day fol­low­ing a Sun­day game, but Van Gaal has in­sisted on his play­ers re­port­ing for training on Mon­days, when they would sit through a video re­play of the pre­vi­ous game.

But such was the crit­i­cal na­ture of the anal­y­sis — ‘he would cru­cify play­ers in front of each other,’ ac­cord­ing to one source — that cap­tain Wayne Rooney and vice-cap­tain Michael Carrick sought out Van Gaal to urge the man­ager to soften his ap­proach in order to avoid break­ing the con­fi­dence of his play­ers.

Van Gaal ac­cepted the ad­vice and acted upon it by in­stead send­ing emails to play­ers with clips and notes at­tached.

The ma­jor­ity of the play­ers would not open the emails, how­ever, know­ing that in­side lay a raft of crit­i­cisms, prompt­ing a tracker to be

at­tached to re­veal when the emails had been opened.

The play­ers have since be­gun to open the files on their phones, ig­nor­ing the con­tents, but en­sur­ing that the email shows up as hav­ing been read.

Van Gaal’s pre­scrip­tive ap­proach to the game has also alien­ated his play­ers, with one se­nior fig­ure con­firm­ing the man­ager’s in­struc­tion, as re­vealed in The In­de­pen­dent in Fe­bru­ary, not to shoot at goal with their first touch.

Play­ers re­gard Van Gaal’s foot­ball as too slow and me­thod­i­cal — ‘they are not al­lowed to think for them­selves’ in­sisted one source close to the play­ers — and the strik­ers have grown ex­as­per­ated by see­ing so lit­tle of the ball.

Van Gaal, who has earned ad­mi­ra­tion in the board­room for pro­mot­ing young­sters such as Mar­cus Rash­ford, Cameron Borth­wick-jack­son, Ti­mothy Fosu-men­sah and FA Cup match­win­ner Jesse Lin­gard, is also re­garded within the dress­ing-room as hav­ing failed to con­trol a group of dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties.

Van Gaal is blamed by some play­ers for al­low­ing Sch­we­in­steiger to ‘take the piss’ since his in­jury, with the for­mer Bay­ern Mu­nich mid­fielder’s reg­u­lar ab­sence from the club in be­tween games be­com­ing a source of an­noy­ance to many.

And while Rash­ford is re­garded as a huge pos­i­tive of Van Gaal’s spell in charge, with the 18-year-old viewed as a grounded char­ac­ter and a ‘good kid,’ the story of one player ask­ing the club chef to cook him two hard­boiled eggs to take home as he did not know how to boil them him­self un­der­lines the sense within the squad that too much is now done for the younger el­e­ment of the team.

— The In­de­pen­dent

Louis van Gaal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.