The journalist labelled “fat man” by Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has issued a cutting response to the Red Devils boss.
Neil Custis of the Sun was Van Gaal's target as the Dutchman reacted angrily as he left his post-match press conference following his team’s 3-3 draw at Newcastle United on Tuesday.
Here’s a look at the incident in question, via Coral:
ICYMI: Van Gaal calls a journalist a 'fat man' for insulting Wayne Rooney.. https://t.co/HbioePYPd51/13/2016, 5:24:48 PM
In a piece covering the story on the newspaper’s website, Custis subtly claimed his revenge:
You are right Louis I am fat. I had a knee operation four months ago that stopped me running and going to the gym.
That has resulted in me putting on nearly two stone. But I am trying to get it all off by having a dry January and calm February and a personal trainer.
At least I can hold my hand up to my own failings. Shame others can't.
In an interview with the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast on talkSPORT, Custis claimed the comment was "crass and pathetic" and "the way they play under him has probably been the worst Manchester United have in 35 years."
According to BBC Sport, when asked about the form of captain Wayne Rooney, the Dutchman’s response was, "You have criticised him, I don’t." He then pointed at Custis before leaving the room and said: “You too. Fat man. There.”
It’s been a difficult spell for Van Gaal and his United side. They seemed set to notch a key win at Newcastle as the second of two Rooney goals put the Red Devils 3-2 up with just 11 minutes remaining in the match. But a deflected effort from Paul Dummett in the final minute salvaged a draw for the hosts.
The result did little to help United’s ambitions of getting back into the title race, and they go into Sunday's crunch showdown with Liverpool needing a positive result. Indeed, according to James Ducker of the Times, Van Gaal could well be given his marching orders should his side be defeated at Anfield.
As the Guardian’s Daniel Harris noted, under Van Gaal, positive Manchester United performances have been scarce, especially this season:
Daniel Harris @DanielHarris
Van Gaal has managed Utd in 77 games. They've played properly not even 15 times, and only 3 times this season: both Brugge, and Everton.1/13/2016, 9:44:15 AM
The prickly demeanour showcased in this instance is indicative the manager is under a lot of pressure. The Dutchman has never seemed too friendly with the press since taking on the job at Old Trafford in 2014, but he’s never got personal with a journalist before this incident; it’s not a moment that paints him in a particularly good light.
Of course, everyone involved in football gets frustrated—especially in the immediate aftermath of a game. But for Van Gaal, this is more ammunition for his detractors and another indication he’s a manager who is at the end of his tether in a football landscape that has gotten a bit too relentless for his liking.