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Louis van Gaal: Fergie told me he had problems with Manchester United

Louis van Gaal

The Dutchman, who led the Old Trafford club to FA Cup victory during his spell in charge between 2014 and 2016, retired from football earlier this month after a career in which he led the likes of Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to major honours.

In an interview with BBC Sport (opens in new tab), Van Gaal expressed his frustration at the structure of United's hierarchy, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward taking overall charge with the help of Matt Judge, who has a 13-year background in investment banking.

United had stated their intention to appoint a technical director after Van Gaal’s successor Jose Mourinho was sacked in December, but the structure is yet to change.

This led the 67-year-old to question the club’s priorities, and he insisted that United legend Ferguson has also expressed concerns on the matter.

"At the moment there is a structure with a scouting division and above that is someone at Woodward's right hand,” he explained.

“The structure is not so bad but the right hand has to be a technical director with a football view, not somebody with a banker's role.

"Unfortunately, we are talking about a commercial club, not a football club. I spoke to Ferguson about this and in his last years, he also had problems with it."

Midway through Van Gaal’s second season, a poor run of form increased pressure on his position as they picked up two points from five games and were knocked out of the Champions League.

United made contact with Mourinho, and although the club maintain that no offer was made to the Portuguese, media reports said otherwise and the Dutchman remains unhappy about the situation.

"I can imagine Woodward chooses Mourinho," said Van Gaal. "He is a top coach. He has won a lot of titles. More than me.

"What I don't like is Woodward contacting my successor, knowing in his mind he will replace me and he keeps his mouth shut for six months.

“Every Friday I had to go into press conferences and be asked what I thought about the rumours. What does that do to the authority of the coach?

"To win the FA Cup when, for six months, the media has a noose round my neck, is my biggest achievement.

"I spoke to Woodward the day after that game. His argument was that I was only going to be there for one more year and Mourinho would be there for three, four or five.

"I appreciate he hired a private plane to get me back to Portugal but his arguments were not good enough."


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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.