By Alex Baker
SANTA MONICA, Calif. The worst kept secret in world football was made public on Monday as the Manchester United board brought the curtain down on the Louis van Gaal era at Old Trafford by relieving the Dutch manager of his duties.
In the end leading United to its first trophy since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson – Saturday’s FA Cup triumph – was not enough to convince the board that it was in the club’s best interest to allow Van Gaal to see out the final year of his contract.
Van Gaal endured a difficult tenure at Old Trafford but somehow managed to maintain the support of the board long after the fans had turned against him. The veteran manager, who previously won titles in Holland, Spain and Germany before leading the Netherlands to third place in the World Cup two years ago, had been widely criticized for the style of play he imposed on the team.
There were also growing allegations behind the scenes that the players had lost faith in his tactics and grown impatient with his methods.
But despite being unceremoniously dismissed after failing to lead Man U back to the Premier League title, or more crucially, into next season’s Champions League, Van Gaal arguably did make something of an impact at the club.
A statement from the club’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward on Manchester United’s official website acknowledged Van Gaal’s contribution:
“I would like to thank Louis and his staff for their excellent work in the past two year culminating in winning a record-equaling 12th FA Cup for the club (and securing him a title in four different countries. He has behaved with great professionalism and dignity throughout his time here. He leaves a legacy of having given several young players the confidence to show their ability on the highest stage. Everyone at the club wishes him all the best in the future.”
Van Gaal issued a separate statement, saying that it was an “honour to manage such a magnificent club as Manchester United FC, and in doing so, I have fulfilled a lifelong ambition.”
While the 64-year-old Dutchman – who previously won the Champions League with Ajax, La Liga with Barcelona, and the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich – was widely criticized for the underperformance of several of his big name signings, he won plaudits for bringing young players like Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard through at the club.
Although no official announcement regarding Van Gaal’s successor has yet been made, former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is heavily tipped to be appointed as the next manager of the 20-time Premier League champions.
Photos courtesy of ISI.