Angel Di Maria Says Louis Van Gaal Was to Blame for Manchester United Struggles

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2019

PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 22: Angel Di Maria of PSG during the french Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and FC Nantes at Parc des Princes stadium on December 22, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Angel Di Maria has said Louis van Gaal was to blame for his poor form in his sole season at Manchester United back in 2014-15.

The Argentinian moved to Old Trafford for £59.7 million in August 2014, just three months on from his Man of the Match performance for Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final.

Understandably, there was much excitement about the move among United fans, but Di Maria failed to live up to the hype as he struggled to adapt to the English game.

Less than a year later, he moved to Paris Saint-Germain for £44 million, and he has now blamed Van Gaal, who managed United between 2014 and 2016, for failing to give him the platform on which to flourish, per France Bleu (h/t Tom Maston of Goal).

"I only stayed for one year," Di Maria said. It was not the best time of my career, or rather I was not allowed to spend my best time there. There were complications with the coach at the time. But thank God, I was able to come to PSG and demonstrate again who I was."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Louis van Gaal, manager of Manchester United walks to the bench before the start of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on December 28, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Di Maria, 30, showed flashes of brilliance during his time at Old Trafford and finished the 2014-15 campaign with a fairly decent return of three goals and 10 assists.

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He struggled to cope with the physicality of English football, though, and a break-in at his home had a major effect on him and his family, per Amitai Winehouse of the Telegraph.

Since moving to PSG, he has won two Ligue 1 titles and looks well set to win a third in 2018-19. Di Maria continues to be a key figure for PSG and the Argentina national team, and it is likely there are still many at United who regret his failure to settle.

The former Benfica winger will return to Old Trafford in February when PSG visit for the first leg of their last-16 tie in the UEFA Champions League:

When the draw was made, it looked a generous one for the French champions, as United were in turmoil under former manager Jose Mourinho.

Now the Red Devils are on a six-game winning run under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Di Maria is wary of the threat they pose: "We still have matches before facing Manchester. They have changed with their new coach, and they have not lost a match."

PSG will be desperate to avoid another premature exit from the Champions League this season. They were knocked out at the last-16 stage in 2017-18 and 2016-17 after four consecutive quarter-final exits.

In order for them to fully establish themselves among the European elite, they must get further in 2018-19, and perhaps even win the tournament. But United will pose a significant threat, especially if they continue their fine recent form.