London - Louis
van Gaal's sacking as Manchester United manager was finally confirmed
on Monday as Jose Mourinho prepared to take charge at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal had appeared certain to lose his job since reports leaked
out after United's FA Cup final victory against Crystal Palace on
Saturday that former Chelsea boss Mourinho was being lined up to replace
The 64-year-old had hoped leading United to their first major
silverware since the retirement of legendary boss Alex Ferguson in 2013
would persuade the club's United States-based owners, the Glazer family,
to let him see out the final season of his three-year contract with the
Premier League club.
But United's failure to qualify for the lucrative Champions League proved fatal to van Gaal's chances of survival.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss had lost the backing of
many members of the United squad, who were unhappy with his rigid
playing style and criticism of their mistakes, while sections of the
club's fanbase had taken to jeering him as they grew increasingly
frustrated with the team's conservative tactics.
Van Gaal felt he was hard done by after United suffered injuries to
several key players and he couldn't hide his anguish at his premature
"I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three year plan," van Gaal said in a statement released by United.
"It has been an honour to manage such a magnificent club as
Manchester United, and in doing so, I have fulfilled a long held
"I believe that the foundations are firmly in place to enable the club to move forward and achieve even greater success.
"I hope that winning the FA Cup will give the club a platform to
build upon next season to restore the success that this passionate set
of fans desire.
"I look forward to watching the continued development of these young players next season."
United's statement added "a decision on a successor as manager will
be announced soon" as executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward praised van
"I would like to thank Louis and his staff for their excellent work
in the past two years culminating in winning a record-equalling 12th FA
Cup for the club," Woodward said.
"He has behaved with great professionalism and dignity throughout his
time here. He leaves us with a legacy of having given several young
players the confidence to show their ability on the highest stage."
After reportedly learning of his
imminent sacking from his wife Truus immediately after the FA Cup final,
van Gaal was driven into United's training ground at 08:45 BST on
Monday with the football world expecting his departure to be announced
But 45 minutes after his arrival, League Managers Association lawyer
Paul Gilroy QC also arrived at Carrington to start the lengthy process
of discussing a settlement for van Gaal, who earned a reported £6.4
million per year.
Van Gaal was eventually confirmed at 20:30 BST, clearing the way for
Mourinho, who was photographed walking outside his London home on
Monday, to fulfil his long-held ambition of managing United.
Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes is believed to be arriving in Manchester on Tuesday to tie up the deal for his client.
Mourinho, who served as van Gaal's assistant at Barcelona from 1997
to 2000, is expected to be confirmed as United boss sometime on Tuesday.
The 53-year-old Portuguese coach, who has won 21 major trophies in
his glittering career, will arrive to find United at a low ebb despite
their FA Cup triumph.
United suffered an embarrassing group stage exit from the Champions
League before coming fifth in the Premier League to miss out on a place
in Europe's elite club competition next term.
To make matters worse, it was bitter rivals Manchester City who took
the final Champions League spot after United, who had their destiny in
their own hands, were beaten 3-2 at West Ham in their penultimate match.
United's woeful lack of attacking impetus will be the first thing
Mourinho needs to fix as they only scored 49 league goals - their
lowest total since 1989-90.
Yet some senior United players are said to be concerned the acerbic
Mourinho, who has a well-earned reputation as a cautious tactician
himself, may prove to be too similar to van Gaal.
The manner of Mourinho's departure from Chelsea in December, which
was caused by a major rift with his squad just months after they were
crowned English champions, will be alarming to some at Old Trafford.
Mourinho also has to deal with the future of Ryan Giggs, the United
legend who served as van Gaal's assistant but could be ready to end his
29-year association with the club.