Words: Josh Millar
Images: Offside Sports Photography
Louis van Gaal didn’t hold back as he spoke about being sacked after winning the FA Cup with Manchester United, and his legacy as a football manager, in his first official interview after announcing his retirement from the game.
In a gloves-off interview, van Gaal took aim at his most recent employers, citing a lack of respect as the reason it didn’t work out at Old Trafford. He also admits he could have joined a different Premier League club after his Netherlands contract expired after the 2014 World Cup.
"Tottenham were a better selection because Manchester United were an old team and I knew I would have to transform them," van Gaal said to the BBC "Was it the wrong choice? Maybe, but I follow my heart. I worked at the number one team in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and now also in England."
Although he won the FA Cup in his second and final season at the club, he still had to deal with almost constant criticism from some sections of the press. "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 [that] he hired a private plane to get me back to Portugal, but his arguments were not good enough."
Van Gaal was recently criticised by former United player Ángel Di María for not playing him in his best position during their time together in Manchester, but the Dutchman isn’t having any of it, "Di María 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," says van Gaal.
The theme of the interview seems to be van Gaal reverting to type so that he can settle some old scores, "People think we have only had fake news since Donald Trump became president. In football we have had it for 50 years," he said.
"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 Solskjær is that Solskjær is winning.”
Although he saves a little bit of mirth for one of his biggest critics, Paul Scholes, "Paul Scholes was a manager too, yes? Fantastic, eh. Fantastic."
After 40 years in football, in which he won the Champions League and took the Netherlands to a third-place finish in a World Cup, Louis van Gaal seems to be enjoying his retirement.
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