Manchester United’s struggles since Sir Alex Ferguson have been well documented over the years, and former full back Rafael da Silva has opened up on life at the club under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
Having won the Premier League title in 2013, Ferguson decided to bring the curtain down on his illustrious, trophy filled career, the Scot selecting fellow compatriot David Moyes as the man to take over the reins at Manchester United.
The former Everton boss failed to make an impression at Old Trafford, and with the club having missed out on Champions League football by April, he was given his marching orders before being replaced by Louis van Gaal.
Despite the clubs struggles under Moyes, former United right-back Rafael insisted that current West Ham boss was on a hiding to nothing.
“I have nothing bad to say about David,” Rafael told The Athletic. “I talk bad about some people, like Van Gaal. I don’t like Van Gaal. But Moyes was not like Van Gaal, not even a bit. I mean here as a human being.
“The problem was that everybody thought Moyes would be nearly the same coach as Ferguson but they were different people, outside the pitch and inside the pitch. But to be honest with you, it is not easy to come after Ferguson. He had a lot of pressure around him. Maybe people wanted him to be Ferguson — but he wasn’t. That is the truth. You cannot replace a guy like Alex Ferguson and to say to the other coach, ‘I want you to be like him.’ There is no chance, man. It was really hard for him.”
While Moyes took a lot of flack for his ill-fated tenure, the Brazilian admitted that the players were resistant to the new man in charge: “One hundred per cent,” he said. “The players were used to Ferguson and when Moyes comes, everything he does except for winning… they are going to blame someone and it will be him. It would never be the players’ fault as we were used to winning everything before.
“Players in their minds were thinking, ‘It is not my fault, it is the coach’s fault.’ Of course he had a part of this but everybody was a little bit thinking it was the coach’s fault. You cannot play when it is like that.”
Despite seemingly having some sympathy for Moyes, Rafael certainly doesn’t hold any positivity towards his successor, Louis van Gaal, the Dutch authoritarian instantly making his judgement on the tenacious young full-back.
“When they said Van Gaal was the manager, a lot of friends called me,” he revealed. “I could not believe it, as a lot of people told me he does not like Brazilians (because of their style of play). They told me, ‘The first thing he is going to do is take you out.’ Actually, it was the second thing because on the first day, he did not speak to me. On the second day, he said, ‘You can leave.’
“I had not even trained and he said that. I could not believe it. Ryan (Giggs) tried to defend me a lot. I spoke with him and I could not understand it because I had not even had a chance to show my football to Van Gaal in training. He just came and said, ‘You can leave.’ He did not explain why. He said, ‘You will not play this season, I am not going to use you, if you want to leave, you leave.’ I said, ‘OK.’
“I still tried to battle for my place. I stayed one year with him. It was so, so hard. He is one of the worst people I have worked with.”
Van Gaal was said to have ordered the players to dine together in order to create a greater unity within the squad, though Rafael revealed that the man nicknamed the Iron Tulip would spout ‘shit’ for 15 minutes after every meal to leave the players bored and frustrated.
“Every day, after breakfast, after lunch, or if we had dinner together, he would speak to everyone for 15 minutes about training, about what has happened, about everything, about life. You know when you start to stop listening to what someone is saying, because they speak so much? He wanted to show he could speak. But it was every day! All the time! You need to wait for everybody to finish their food to leave, which is fine, OK. But then we watched him talk, for 15 minutes, with all due respect, about shit. That is the truth, man. It was shit.”
While Manchester United’s brand of football under the Dutchman will largely be remembered as tedious, Rafael conceded that he respected the Dutchman’s possession-based philosophy, but was maddened by his managers desire to talk for talking’s sake on a daily basis.
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“Van Gaal’s style was not the worst, I must say that,” said Rafael. “He liked to pass. When you start to pass, you create.
“I was never concerned about criticism or analysis, either. You have to take that. As a player, if you did something wrong, OK. If you don’t think you did something wrong, talk back and say it. Sometimes it was too much information. But I respect that. I don’t mind that.
“If we want to discuss what I did wrong on the pitch for one hour, no problem. But he cannot speak for 15 minutes about shit. Every day. This was mad to me.”
Rafael left the club in 2015 in a deal worth less than £3 million, spending five years in France with Lyon before recently completing a move to Turkish Super Lig side Istanbul Basaksehir.