Louis van Gaal’s wife expected Manchester United sacking when Sir Alex Ferguson stopped greeting her
Louis van Gaal’s wife sensed he would be sacked by Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton stopped greeting her in the Old Trafford boardroom.
United decided to sack Van Gaal in May 2016 after they failed to qualify for the Champions League in a soporific season where they scored a measly 49 Premier League goals and lost 10 games, finishing fifth. United was also eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage.
Van Gaal led United to their first FA Cup final in nine years, a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace, although it had already been widely reported Van Gaal would be sacked. It was leaked shortly after the final that Van Gaal would be officially dismissed two days later and replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Despite months of credible reports, Mourinho would take over at United, Van Gaal was in denial and had sought assurances from the United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Van Gaal’s wife, Truus, became frustrated her husband was oblivious to United’s plans.
“I knew Louis would be fired by Manchester United. I felt it,” Truus van Gaal says in Van Gaal. “We had a small boardroom there and it was always fun with the old Manchester legends, Ferguson, Bobby Charlton. We had a table there with good food and drinks.
“Suddenly, they stopped greeting us, and just waved from afar. Something was wrong. It was female intuition.
“Then when the man (Woodward) denies it, Louis accepts it. I said, ‘Louis, you’re going to be fired. Get wise to it.’ And I slammed the door of the apartment shut.
“After the FA Cup final, Louis said, ‘Well, we did it!’ I said, ‘Louis, they say you’ve been fired.’
“He got so angry! ‘Why did you have to spoil my party? Stop all this aggressive nonsense!’
“Later, he said, ‘Hi, it’s Louis. You can come home, you were right.’ His voice sounded broken, so I said, ‘Alright, I’m on my way.’ When I came home I could see he’d been crying. I hugged him. I had tears in my eyes too.”
In the film, Van Gaal holds a video call with Wayne Rooney, who recalls Truus was “angry” in the aftermath of the Cup final.
Van Gaal signed 13 players during his two years as United manager, smashing the British transfer record with the £ 59.7 million signing of Angel di Maria in 2014. United also invested £58m in Anthony Martial a year later.
Despite spending £284m, Van Gaal complains to Rooney in the documentary: “It’s unbelievable. I was at the richest club in the world and I could not buy the players I wanted.” United failed with moves for Mats Hummels, Sergio Ramos, Sadio Mane, Thomas Muller, and Robert Lewandowski.
“Manchester was my most difficult period,” Van Gaal admits. “I came in as a manager and everything was disappointing. Most of the players in the squad were over 30. It was my job to sort it out. Rooney was also nearing 30.”
Rooney tells Van Gaal: “I was very disappointed because I felt that everything was moving in the right direction. I felt if you had one more year we would have been successful.”
Rooney’s preference was for Van Gaal’s assistant, Ryan Giggs, to be promoted to manager. Ferguson and Charlton opposed Mourinho’s appointment. Mourinho remains the most successful United manager since Ferguson retired in 2013.