Wayne Rooney Says Louis van Gaal Better Tactically Than Sir Alex Ferguson

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis van Gaal (R) talks with Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney during a team training session in Manchester, north west England, on November 24, 2015, ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group B football match against PSV Eindhoven on November 25.    AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF / AFP / OLI SCARFF        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney has said Louis van Gaal was the most tactically adept coach he worked with during his career, despite spending nine seasons under managerial legend Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Van Gaal recently announced his retirement from football, and Rooney said on TalkSport's drivetime show that the Dutchman was tactically impressive despite spending only two seasons at Old Trafford:

“It didn't work for David Moyes and they [Manchester United] then went for the experience of Louis van Gaal.

“He was tactically the best I have worked with—in terms of setting you up in a shape defensively and everyone knowing their roles.

“It was just about getting the attacking side right as well as the defensive side.

“He won a few trophies but it didn't pan out the way everyone would have hoped.”

After leaving his post as Netherlands coach following the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Van Gaal replaced Moyes as United coach. The Red Devils failed to win a trophy during his first season, but Van Gaal signed off his stint by clinching the FA Cup just prior to his departure in 2016, which ended up being the final title of his career.

Along with that FA Cup triumph, the former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax coach will be remembered in England for producing memorable soundbites and touchline drama, via Soccer AM:

Soccer AM @SoccerAM

Happy retirement to the one and only Louis Van Gaal. He’s made us laugh a lot over the years 😆 https://t.co/hefMszYfT6

There was criticism regarding Van Gaal's reign as United chief at the time, with some feeling his methods were too defensive and didn't align with the club's attacking philosophies.

In Moyes' single Premier League campaign as United manager, the team scored 64 goals and finished sixth in the table. They scored two fewer goals in 2014-15 as Van Gaal brought the club back to fourth and shored up their defence, though a fifth-place finish while scoring only 49 goals the following season led to his sacking.

Jose Mourinho was brought in as his replacement, although United are enjoying much better results under his successor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who took over in December.

The Independent noted at the time of Solskjaer's appointment that Van Gaal's win ratio was the worst of any permanent manager to have been named since Ferguson departed:

Indy Football @IndyFootball

Manchester United managers since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club: David Moyes: P51, 52.94 win % Ryan Giggs: P4, 50% Louis van Gaal: P103, 52.43% Jose Mourinho: P144, 58.33% https://t.co/1LV0Qa8FMZ

Van Gaal was particularly attuned with his youth options throughout his career and cultivated a reputation as a manager willing to give young players their chances in the first team. It was he who handed Marcus Rashford his debut at United, but Van Gaal was also responsible for giving the likes of Andres Iniesta, Patrick Kluivert, Xavi, Clarence Seedorf and Carles Puyol their professional breakthroughs.

Ferguson reigned for 27 years at the Theatre of Dreams and won 38 trophies—including 13 Premier League titles. It's a record that can't be tarnished, and it suggests tactics aren't the only key to victory.