Wayne Rooney reckons Manchester United should have stuck by Louis van Gaal, admitting he was ‘devastated’ by the Dutchman’s sacking in 2016.
Van Gaal recently described Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward as “an evil genius” for the manner of his departure four years ago, which came within hours of the club beating Crystal Palace at Wembley to lift the FA Cup for a 12th time.
While there was an initial excitement among the Old Trafford faithful at the prospect of Van Gaal replacing David Moyes – especially having watched the Iron Tulip steer the Netherlands to a third-placed finish at the 2014 World Cup – fans soon turned against the Dutchman due to the painfully methodical brand of football being served up – United scoring just 49 Premier League goals in the second year of Van Gaal’s tenure.
While a number of the United support were glad to see the back of Van Gaal, Wayne Rooney – club captain at the time – has admitted he felt the club should have stuck by the former Barcelona boss, saying he learned ‘priceless’ lessons as he started to think about his own career beyond his playing days.
“I was devastated when Louis was sacked. For me, it was an absolute joy to work with him,” Rooney writes in a new book, ‘LVG – The Manager and the Total Person’ – as quoted by The Mirror.
“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.
“We didn’t have the best team in the league anyway, but we could not afford to have 12 players injured.
“Our best XI 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.
“At the time it 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 from him. I could not have wished for a better example.”