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Rooney insists Van Gaal was sacked by Man Utd too soon - is he right?

  /  autty

Wayne Rooney insists Louis van Gaal was sacked by Manchester United too soon in 2016, but is he right? The Sunday Supplement panel discuss.

Van Gaal was sacked by United after two years at the club, replaced by Jose Mourinho shortly after winning the FA Cup against Crystal Palace in May 2016.

Van Gaal led United to a fourth-place finish in 2015, but finished outside of the Champions League spots in 2016. However, since his sacking United have made the top four only once, in Mourinho's second season in 2017/18.

The Dutchman made Rooney captain during his time at the club, before Rooney left United in 2017 under Mourinho to join Everton.

Rooney is quoted as saying in the Sunday Mirror: "I was devastated when Louis was sacked. 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 learned more than under any other manager.

"This 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."

'For Rooney, Van Gaal was on a different level'

The Sunday Times' football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft, who ghost-writes Rooney's column for the newspaper, said on the Sunday Supplement that Rooney loved the tactical work of Van Gaal during his two years at Old Trafford...

"He loves Louis and his eccentricity. He loves Louis' personality, and they got on well.

"He also particularly loved the tactical mind and level of prep he brought to Man Utd. Fergie is the biggest figure in his career, there's no doubt about it, in terms of teaching him about winning and man-management skills, but in terms of learning about football and tactics and the intricacies, he just said Van Gaal was on a different level to anyone he'd seen in his career.

"Wayne has a really keen tactical mind, and that was meat and drink to him. Wayne has a great mind, where he did pick up an awful lot from his playing days; team talks, training sessions and the details that went into matches. He's got all of that clearly in his mind.

"I do think that specific knowledge will stand him in good stead for when he becomes a coach, he took in so much from Fergie and from Van Gaal in that level of detail, and football is about detail now."

Van Gaal last week launched a fresh attack on United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, labelling him an "evil genius" who "had his head in a noose for six months" before sacking him.

'He's wrong about Van Gaal'

The Daily Mail football editor Ian Ladyman takes a different view, however, insisting Van Gaal did not need another year at Old Trafford, and remembers one incident in pre-season where his man-management seem to irk Rooney...

"Firstly, I think he's wrong about Van Gaal. I don't think Van Gaal needed another year at Manchester United and I don't think Manchester United needed another year of Louis van Gaal. I remember thinking at the end of that that Louis, sadly, the iconic manager that he has been at the top of the European game, was the perfect example of how some managers' talents and skills just don't endure as long as others. Not everyone can manage until they're 70, like Sir Alex did and Sir Bobby Robson did.

"We talk about Wayne's memory, and I would be surprised if Wayne does not remember an incident on a pre-season tour with Louis van Gaal in America, I think Louis' first summer in 2014.

"We were in Washington ahead of a game. We were standing at the side of the field watching United train, it must have been 90 degrees, and right at the end of the session there seemed to be a bit of a kerfuffle going on in front of one of the goals. We looked across and realised what it was; Wayne had been practising penalties with a few other players, taking it in terms to try and score. Van Gaal had decided he wasn't terribly impressed by the way Wayne Rooney, who he was just about to make Manchester United captain, was taking his penalties.

"So Louis kind of ushered Wayne to one side and started to go through the motions of how England's premier goalscorer of his generation was to take a penalty! To say that Wayne wasn't overly impressed by that observation is to understate it greatly! He was as hands-off as you can ever imagine a player to be in what was generally a very relaxed environment!

"Maybe that was something on a wider scale that Wayne liked about Louis; Louis was all about the micromanagement, he was the type of coach that would walk onto a training pitch, blow his whistle, stop the action, get hold of a player by his shoulders and move him seven centimetres to his right and say: 'Don't stand there, stand here!' Some players like that, need that, some players loathe that, as we know!"