Former Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva has revealed the single solitary reason why he was ‘desperate’ to leave the club – Louis van Gaal!
The Dutch manager became Manchester United’s first coach from outside of the UK and Ireland when he was appointed in 2014, with the hope of putting the club back together again after the spectacular failure of David Moyes.
He had excited United fans that summer, taking the Netherlands to the semi-finals of the World Cup, hammering World champions Spain in the process.
However, the disciplinarian soon made his presence felt at Old Trafford, and wasted no time in stamping his authority on the squad, with Brazilian full-back Rafael feeling the full force of his temperament. In an interview with ESPN, he said:
“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 had happened with Rivaldo at Barcelona, but I didn’t believe it.
“In his first season, Van Gaal called me into his office and said: ‘You can leave.’ The meeting lasted one minute. That was it: You can leave’.”
While Rafael wasn’t forced out of the door immediately, he did ultimately leave at the end of Van Gaal’s first season at the club, joining Lyon for the paltry fee of just £2.5m.
“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,” he added.
“Van Gaal texted me to say: ‘You know how football is.’
“I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t speak to me and then texted me to wish me well. I said: ‘Thank you.’ I was being polite. But I was angry.”
Recanting an incident in the Manchester United canteen, Rafael revealed the volatility and autocratic nature to Van Gaal’s character:
“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.”