Six years after he was sacked by Manchester United, Louis van Gaal, has not hidden his disrespect for the club.
Obviously, still pained by the manner he was dismissed from his job in 2016 after just two years in charge. LvG had left the Dutch national team job after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to fulfill his dream at Old Trafford.
The 70-year-old has a rich resume of top European clubs he had managed; Ajax, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich before his appointment at Old Trafford.
LvG, who qualified Holland for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, took over from Sir Alex Ferguson’s calamitous ‘anointed successor, David Moyes. He won the 12th FA Cup title for the club in his last season after defeating Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace 2-1 in the final. However, he failed to qualify the club for the UEFA Champions League in 2016; for which he was given the boot.
He had an agreement to handle the club for three years, but was relieved after just two seasons; something he expressed his displeasure over in his farewell message to the club. He also appreciated the opportunity to have fulfilled a long-held ambition, as Sir Alex made the club attractive to all and sundry; coaches and players, unlike the joke the club are today.
But since he walked out of Old Trafford, LvG, who will step down from his role as the Dutch national team coach after the Mundial later this year due to his cancer diagnosis, appears not to have completely healed from the wound of his untimely dismissal by then chief executive, Ed Woodward.
At every given opportunity, the former Ajax coach has used the media to get back his pound of flesh. However, he has failed to realize that coaches are designed to be hired and fired, so long as employers are prepared to pay the financial penalty for abruptly and prematurely terminating agreements. That is the standard.
No doubt, LvG is in a class of its own as a top-class manager. But in his two spells at Barcelona as manager, he did not spend more than three seasons at once before packing his bags, despite winning two Laliga titles and one Copa Del Rey. His time in the dugout at Bayern also lasted only two seasons, just as at United.
In 2017, when his sack was still fresh and being replaced by Jose Mourinho, he said he felt like United put his head in a noose and was publicly placed on the gallows. He disapproved of how the news of his sack leaked to the media before the club eventually notified him.
After the United job, LvG turned down several offers and took back the national team job in his country five years after the debacle at Manchester. They say time heals all wounds, but certainly not the one on the tactician’s mind. He pulls no punches on comments that have to do with the Premier League club.
United has been shambolic; both on the pitch and in the board room, since Sir Alex left in 2013. Before the just-concluded season, the search for the new ‘Ferguson’ took them to Ajax, where LvG had worked previously. While United was negotiating with Erik ten Haag, he advised his compatriot to turn the club down, telling the 52-year-old that the English side is a commercial club rather than a football club.
Money drives everything and football is not an exception. These days, footballers earn people’s lifetime savings in one week, fly in customized club airplanes, and live the life of celebrities.
Also, in his outspokenness against his former employers, he has advised Ajax center-back, Jurrien Timber, who is desperately wanted by ten Haag to fix the defensive problem at United, to ignore the advances of the club in a World Cup year, despite admitting that the 20-year-old is good enough to play in the English topflight.
If his excuse is genuine and if he were Didier Deschamps, what would he say to Aurelién Tchouaméni, who is all set to join Real Madrid from Monaco for €80million in a World Cup year, where he would be the fifth midfield option behind Luka Modric, Tony Kroos, Casemiro, Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga at the Spanish side next season, at least?
LvG needs to grow up, heal and move on.