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Louis van Gaal: It Felt Like I Had 'A Noose Round My Neck' at Manchester United

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2019

Manchester United’s manager Louis van Gaal, right, talks to his player Wayne Rooney ahead of the English FA Cup final soccer match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium, London on Saturday May 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has said his final months at Old Trafford felt like he was working with "a noose" around his neck.

Speaking to Simon Stone of BBC Sport, the legendary Dutch coach revealed United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward contacted Jose Mourinho about succeeding him as Red Devils boss six months before he departed Manchester.

"I can imagine Woodward chooses Mourinho. He is a top coach. He has won a lot of titles. More than me.

"What I don't like is Woodward contacting my successor, knowing in his mind he will replace me and he keeps his mouth shut for six months. Every Friday I had to go into press conferences and be asked what I thought about the rumours. What does that do to the authority of the coach?

"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 he hired a private plane to get me back to Portugal but his arguments were not good enough."

Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Van Gaal was sacked two years after taking the reins at the failing football giant. The 67-year-old had been one of the most lauded tacticians during his spells at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but he failed to make United a potent attacking force.

United were often criticised for their slow passing style under the Dutchman. However, Van Gaal claimed his side was built to attack and were not a "boring" outfit, per Stone.

Van Gaal also explained he was forced to play Wayne Rooney as his main striker due to the failing fitness of Robin van Persie.

The former boss brought Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Bastian Schweinsteiger to United during his tenure, but the trio flopped as Van Gaal struggled to create a winning team.

Mourinho suffered a similar fate to the man he replaced, and it has taken United five seasons to produce anything resembling an attacking style.

Interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team have blossomed since he took charge last December, but the Old Trafford giants still have years of bad purchasing to address to create a squad capable of challenging at the top once more.

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