Louis van Gaal breaks his silence on Man United sacking - and launches stinging attack on club officials
Louis van Gaal has broken his silence on his demise as Manchester United manager and accused the club - and potentially his successor Jose Mourinho - of plotting to have him removed for months before he was sacked.
Van Gaal ended a turbulent two-year spell as United manager on a high as he won the FA Cup in his final game in charge, but he suggests the decision to replace him with Mourinho had been taken as early as January 2016.
The veteran Dutchman suggests he would have preferred United officials to be honest with him in their moves to appoint Mourinho, in an open interview with Dutch publication Algemeen Dagblad.
"I was on the chopping block for six months. With my head publicly on the gallows. The pressure was almost inhuman," he declared.
"I think it was all directed behind my back from January. That's why I say that winning the FA Cup has actually been my biggest achievement as a coach, because despite the noose around your neck, you have to keep those players motivated.
"It is my biggest disappointment that United did not come to discuss these things with me. They told me only after my approaching dismissal was already leaked immediately after the final.
"They could get Mourinho, a long-term choice, and a coach with a high commercial value throughout the world. Finally, Woodward said so to me the day after the FA Cup final.
"If they had come to me with the Mourinho story in January, I would have said: 'okay, we're going to give everything for another six months, fully committed to each other, and then he'll take over'.
"Then they would have been able to keep that third year's salary after I left, But now I have made them pay up to the last penny."
Van Gaal appreciates why United decided to hire his former assistant Mourinho to replace him at Old Trafford, yet he suggests a campaign to discredit him was launched that included contribution from the club’s former players.
"Suddenly former players started to say in the media that we were playing boring football," he continued.
"That Mourinho was fired from Chelsea in December made it very attractive to the media to keep pushing me out.
"I do understand that choice of United to get Mourinho. I wanted to sign in 2014 for two years, until I turned 65. United wanted three years because the squad had many players in their 30s and there would be time for a major reorganisation.
"Ed Woodward and the club owners, the Glazer brothers, already knew that after the second season I would only stay for one more year.
"Then after a year and a half, Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea, also a top coach they would like to have at United. With him, they could be at the top for three years. Or five. Maybe 10. Because they would like another Alex Ferguson era."
Van Gaal also suggested United’s owners are more focused on commercial ambitions rather than sporting goals, in comments that may be viewed as a subtle dig at his former employers.
"A club can be football focused in its organisation or commercially," he added.
"At United, the balance is more towards the commercial side."