Manchester United employed Louis van Gaal to manage the club from the summer of 2014, giving him a three-year contract which should have carried him through until the end of the 2016/17 season. However, that did not go to plan and the Dutch manager was sacked days after winning United’s first major honour post-Sir Alex Ferguson with United beating Crystal Palace in the Emirates FA Cup final in 2016. Van Gaal has spoken about Ed Woodward many times, however, now his ten-man transfer list has been revealed which makes for some interesting reading.
In the summer of 2014, Van Gaal signed Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao. However, looking at his transfer list, it was clear that United were not fully behind the manager. David Moyes’ time at United was abject failure and the club should have been behind Van Gaal. The Dutchman has revealed his ten-man transfer shortlist and he was unable to sign any of them. Speaking to FourFourTwo, Van Gaal said:
“I wanted Robert Lewandowski, but when this proved difficult I tried to get Gonzalo Higuain instead.
“Before I had arrived, I also spoke with the board about Neymar. If you are at United, you have to think big. He was also interesting for the club in terms of selling shirts, and I wanted to have quick wingers. For that reason, I also tried to get Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez.
“Thomas Muller was on my wish list, too, and in central midfield I wanted N’Golo Kante. I even tried to sign James Milner, who was already quite old but very multifunctional and possessed leadership skills.
“For the defence, I wanted Sergio Ramos and Mats Hummels, because ours wasn’t the strongest in building from the back.”
Obviously, Shaw and Herrera were signed whilst the Netherlands and Van Gaal were at the World Cup in Brazil so could well have been done by the club with the managers knowledge. In defence, wanting Ramos and Hummels and getting Rojo and Blind is one thing but wanting Lewandowski or Higuain and getting Falcao was something else. Imagine if United had signed Kante and either Mane or Mahrez – could it have changed anything? I guess we will never know but it would seem that every manager is hung out to dry by United inter Woodward and the Glazers.
In his first season at the club, United finished fourth in the Premier League and earned UEFA Champions League football after a season out of European competition altogether after finishing seventh the season before. Van Gaal seemed to think it was strange for a manager of a club to not have any part in the negotiations to sign players at a club that was one of the biggest in the world at the time, despite the poor season under Moyes. Concluding, Van Gaal stated:
“Those were my top targets, but we couldn’t get any of them. I don’t know why, because as the manager I wasn’t involved in any negotiations.
“After I left, players like Mahrez and Kante ended up at Manchester City and Chelsea, while United couldn’t get them. I found that very odd.”
In his second summer as United manager, Van Gaal was again given money but still did not sign any of the targets he wanted. United signed Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Sergio Romero and Anthony Martial. Of the 12 players he signed, Shaw, Rojo, Romero and Martial still remain at the club. In the Premier League during the 2015/16 season, United finished fifth, missing out on the Champions League and earning UEFA Europa League football instead.
The season ended brightly for United though as they lifted the FA Cup at Wembley but days later, Van Gaal was removed as the manager, becoming the second one to be sacked post-Ferguson. Jose Mourinho was brought in a matter of days later and United were at the start of another new era once again, the third post-Ferguson. Looking back though, and providing what Van Gaal has said is true, it shows that United are badly managed as a club, which has been seen for years now. Mourinho was not backed either.
The same will happen to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, if it has not happened already. Ed Woodward and the Glazers seem to be a bad fit for football. Granted, money has been spent since Ferguson left the club but United are on another rebuild because things are never done properly. Imagine if things were dome properly in the first summer after Ferguson retired with United spending the right money in the right areas, also installing a director of football, things could have been much different than they are now. It is like the club announce plans to being in a director of football to appease the supporters, then it never happens anyway.
Written by John Walker