The football world came to terms with the fact that Louis van Gaal is not a manager any more at Manchester United on Sunday, after he delivered the club its twelfth and (joint) record-equalling FA Cup trophy, in a season marred by eccentricities off the pitch as much as the apparent lack of entertainment on it. If there was any part of the job Louis van Gaal absolutely performed to the maximum expectations, it was the madness that the Dutchman brought with him, sometimes debilitating as one could recall but often comical. Here’s my five best Van Gaal moments in his two-year period in England – let me know if you disagree with any, in the comments.
5. He actually said it
Manchester United had drawn 1-1 in a hotly contested league game against the eventual champions Leicester City. There was a moment when Fellaini, being Fellaini, threw an elbow in the face of defender Robert Huth which earned the Belgian a 3-game ban, in retrospection. But that, the result and the fact that United had just suffered a huge blow to their Champions League qualification hopes was overshadowed by what Louis van Gaal had to say, in the post-match press conference. He said,
“Every human being who is grabbed by the hair, only with sex masochism, then it is allowed but not in other situations. They did it several times I think.”
4. Louis van Gaal’s Red Army
Ahead of what is usually Manchester United’s biggest and most anticipated clash against arch rivals Liverpool, the Dutchman was at his emotional best. He rallied the players, quite frightened the host of journalists in the room, by issuing a rallying cry – picking up the vibes from the support – at a time when he was given the backing by the fans.
3. NOT a game-changing substitution
This was arguably one of the many games that made the fans reconsider Louis van Gaal’s reign as United manager and doubts started to create a ripple effect among the supporters – especially the most loyal ones that travel to away games in England and more importantly, Europe. In a must-win game against Wolfsburg in the Champions League, Louis van Gaal made the unlikeliest of substitutions – when he brought on Powell for Juan Mata, who had created the opening goal and was having one of his best games in his favored position.
It’s even funnier when you think the 22-year old made his very first appearance for United in the senior team that day, for over a year. On the substitution, the Dutchman claimed,
“I changed him and I don’t change players for nothing, if I think I can do things better with other players.”
No Louis, you’ve contradicted yourself there.
2. Phil Jones on… what?
You could always spot a contorted Phil Jones face on the internet. If not injuring himself, or injuring his teammate in training, Phil Jones plies his trade for United, in a variety of positions, but chiefly in central defence, where he is in his, shall we say, comfort zone? But when Manchester United faced Queen’s Park Rangers in January 2015, something happened which would quite easily fall into the category ‘bizarrely ridiculous’. Preston born Phillip Jones stepped up and actually took two corners for Manchester United in Loftus Road, ahead of Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata and the rest of the Manchester United outfield players. United won 2-0 but once again, the result or the performance was not the main talking point.
And we wonder why United have not scored enough from set pieces under Louis van Gaal.
1. And the Fallon D’Floor award goes to…
Arguably, the greatest moment under Louis van Gaal as Manchester United manager happened at Old Trafford, in the touchline, a place where you could rarely see him venture. But when he does, he seldom fails to grab the headlines. It was one of the best results in the league for Van Gaal in two years – when his youthful and promising Manchester United, the clear underdogs, came up against the then title-chasing visitors Arsenal. United won 3-2 and an 18-year old from Wythenshawe had scored the opening two goals in absolutely remarkable fashion. But guess what overshadowed all of this that happened on the pitch that day?
Yes, it was none other than Louis van Gaal’s dramatic fall in the technical area – whilst in a conversation with the fourth official.
Arsene Wenger couldn’t believe his eyes. But I, who bore witness to this event like the rest of the 75,000 people inside the stadium that day could. Because that was the sort of man he was. Utterly unpredictable.
Revisit that famous ‘dive’ here.