Last month we did a podcast discussing the ones that got away — Manchester United departures of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Louis van Gaal did more damage than good to the squad but former captain Wayne Rooney feels the Dutchman didn’t deserve to be sacked after winning the FA Cup in 2016.
Van Gaal was replaced José Mourinho who made the big decision at Old Trafford to gradually fade Rooney out of the team. He’d eventually leave to return to Everton, move to the MLS, and now he’s back as player-coach at Derby County.
“I was devastated when Louis was sacked,” Rooney is quoted by The Mirror. “For me, it was an absolute joy to work with him.
“We should have kept him for a third season. We would have been so much stronger. I felt things were improving and players started to understand his vision.
“In those two years, I learnt more than under any other manager.
“That is why I will be forever grateful to him. Not just for making me captain, but also for all the trust and belief he had in me.
“We didn’t have the best team in the league anyway, but we could not afford to have 12 players injured.
“Our first eleven was good enough to play in the top four, but once we got injuries we got in trouble because we did not have the same quality in the squad as in the years before.
“That process at the time was good for me because I had decided that I wanted to become a manager.
“And working with Louis in that way was priceless in my opinion because I could learn so much of him. I could not have wished for a better example,” he concluded.
Van Gaal won United’s first trophy of the post-Fergie period and deserves credit for that.
A lot of fans will look back at his time as manager and remember the boring football, and I think depending on what player you speak to about playing under him, the reactions will be mixed.
Rooney got lots of playing time under Van Gaal — it seemed at the time that he was starting games regardless of his performance levels dipping significantly from years before. Mourinho didn’t just get rid immediately — probably knowing that Rooney has mates in the media and would erupt if he kept happy.
Do you agree with Rooney on Van Gaal?