Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has described the clubs executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward as an ‘evil genius’ after the Dutchman’s sacking days after lifting the clubs first major trophy post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Van Gaal had signed a three year contract with United and was sacked two years into it, despite winning the Emirates FA Cup, which was a big feat considering the state United were in.
The Dutchman, who before signing for United, led the Netherlands to third place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, was tipped to lead United back to glory after replacing David Moyes, who had been sacked the previous April after signing a six-year contract after Ferguson had retired. Van Gaal’s methods may have been strange but seemingly left a foundation, something that is still visible at the club today.
During his first season in charge of United, Van Gaal guided United to a fourth place finish in the Premier League – after the club finished seventh the season before, returning them to the UEFA Champions League after a season out of the competition. In his second season at the club, a fifth placed finish in the Premier League, on goal difference with Manchester City finishing fourth, left United in the UEFA Europa League.
Jose Mourinho was installed as the clubs new manager only days after Van Gaal was sacked, which started another ill-fated era at the club, despite the club winning the FA Community Shield, the Europa League and the EFL Cup under the Portuguese manager. Van Gaal though, does not blame Mourinho and seems to direct his bitterness towards Woodward, who has been problematic at the club. Van Gaal said:
“I blame Ed Woodward, my CEO at Manchester United, much more than Mourinho. In my view, Woodward is the evil genius.”
Many feel that Van Gaal was the right manager for United, perhaps at the wrong time. Some think he was the wrong manager completely. However, given the task that he took on, which was near enough impossible with the poor decisions at the very top of the hierarchy of the club, you can see why so many manager’s have failed at United from Moyes to Van Gaal and further on to Mourinho. Five and a half years of wasted decisions.
These three failed management reigns have left current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a big rebuild. still having players from Ferguson’s reign and still trying to offload the deadwood, which was a plan for this summer but with the coronavirus pandemic, it could be further problematic for the club to get rid of the players they want to get rid of. Some day it might actually happen.
Before becoming United’s new manager after guiding the Netherlands to a third-placed finish in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Van Gaal was linked to Tottenham Hotspur. At the time, Spurs has sacked Tim Sherwood as their manager and were in active negotiation with the Dutchman to replace him. Van Gaal confirmed that Daniel Levy had even hidden in the boot of a car, seemingly trying to keep the deal quiet:
“Daniel Levy went to my house here in Noordwijk and left in the trunk, because Jack van Gelder [a local journalist] was outside.
“It took a long time and he actually gave Manchester United the opportunity to make an offer.”
United promptly got in and secured Van Gaal to a three-year contract on the 19 May 2014, before the World Cup had even started. Seemingly, Spurs had taken too long to get a deal done, Levy presumably counting his buttons and ensuring he had them all rather than getting business done. His loss, although Van Gaal might have wondered what would have happened at Spurs, if he had gone there instead.
I liked Van Gaal as a manager. He seems to be as mad as a box of frogs at times but I would not change him for the world. His press conferences were funny and he was not afraid to tell the poor journalists of the day how poor they actually were, which was a good thing. His period in charge of the club needed to happen, which has helped to get the plan into action today, teaching Woodward a lesson or two in the process.