Rafael Da Silva spent nearly eight years at Manchester United and became a fan favourite under Sir Alex Ferguson. While he sounds happy playing for Olympique Lyon, whom he joined in 2015, the mood changes when he is asked of life under Louis van Gaal.
Carrying out the interview is Phil Brown. A respected radio host and mouthpiece on all things United, he brightens the mood by speaking about life in Manchester, how the move to England came about, and the influence Ferguson had on his life.
Rafael also touches on Neymar’s disappointing World Cup campaign and how the current Brazil side doesn’t play the beautiful football everyone links to the Samba nation.
In the beginning, it’s clear by the way Rafael talks that things went drastically downhill following Fergie’s retirement. He admits we didn’t play well under David Moyes as Brown alludes to the view he underestimated the size of United.
Though when asked about Van Gaal, Rafael says he doesn’t like to speak about the Dutchman’s time as United manager.
However, in a previous interview with Andy Mitten for ESPN, Rafael opened up a little more by saying: “When it was announced that Van Gaal was taking over, four or five people, including players, called me to say that he doesn’t like Brazilian players. They pointed out what happened with Rivaldo at Barcelona, but I didn’t believe it.
“In his first season, Van Gaal called me to his office and said: ‘You can leave,'” Rafael said. “The meeting lasted one minute. That was it: ‘You can leave.’ It took time for me to go, but I was desperate to leave when I did, and that saddens me because I loved everything about Manchester United.
“Van Gaal is not a bad coach, but I didn’t like his character. One day, I was in the canteen waiting to eat. Van Gaal used to speak to us after we’d eaten each day. I had a head injury after a game at Yeovil — one of the few games I played in that season — and I was touching my injury. After three or four seconds, he touched my head and said: ‘Why don’t you respect me?’
“I stood up and said: ‘I always respect you. I’ve never said anything which was disrespectful to you.’ I am a patient guy, but I got angry then. I had done nothing wrong. Antonio [Valencia] later said to me: ‘You’re not going to play again.’ Players didn’t speak back to Van Gaal. Antonio was almost right; I barely played again. I love Manchester United, but I was so desperate to leave United. Only one man did that because I liked everything about the place. I couldn’t handle him anymore.”
Rafael goes on to tell Brown he didn’t ever want to leave United and, to be honest, did any of us want to lose him? I certainly didn’t.
Credit to Brown for getting such access to interview Rafael. That’s what we call quality content with someone who sounds like a great bloke.