Friday 23 August 2019

'Ed Woodward has zero understanding of football' - Former Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal

Ed Woodward and Louis van Gaal
Ed Woodward and Louis van Gaal

Harry Clarke

Louis Van Gaal has claimed Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward knows "zero" about football.

Former United manager Van Gaal, 67, has blamed Woodward for the bulk of the club's problems since the Dutchman was sacked in 2016 after two years in charge.

Van Gaal, who has also had spells in charge of Ajax, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Holland, told German magazine 11 Freunde: "At Bayern, the people in charge are football men. I always appreciated that.

"At Manchester United, on the other hand, Ed Woodward was installed as CEO - somebody with zero understanding of football who was previously an investment banker.

"It cannot be a good thing when a club is run solely from a commercially-driven perspective.

"I don't hold it against the club. They wanted Mourinho and he was on the market."

Van Gaal was heavily criticised during his two seasons at Old Trafford, when he guided United to fourth and fifth-placed finishes and won the FA Cup.

He was sacked two days after United beat Crystal Palace to lift the cup at Wembley in 2016 and replaced by Jose Mourinho.

"Appointing Mourinho was obviously interesting from a business point of view," Van Gaal added.

"He wins games. And for a club like United, the main thing is to win trophies.

"How they are won isn't the main priority, the English fans see it differently. They accept that the game is not all about attacking but it is also about defending.

"I always tried to defend high up the pitch, to be in the opposition's half and play the game there."

Van Gaal says the way that United sacked him was "terrible", but that he has "no hard feelings" towards successor Mourinho.

The Dutchman also believes he suffered as United were "never refreshed" in the transfer market, while he questioned whether current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the right man for the job.

Put to Van Gaal that former United defender Rio Ferdinand is being considered to become technical director, he told the Guardian: "As a good player, you're not a good manager or you're not a good technical director.

"It's more or less what is happening now with Solskjaer, ex-players, old boys' network.

"It's not always a good choice. It can be but it's not always a good choice."

He added: "I was very surprised (Solskjaer) got it in spite of the winning run at the start.

"Because Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world that needs a manager with experience and not a manager who has trained at one or two teams and on a lower level."

But whoever the manager is, Van Gaal believes the current structure at United will continue to hinder footballing development.

"I think you have to change the structure in the organisation of Manchester United because now I think the balance between the football department and commercial department is not right and even slopes over to the commercial," he said.

PA Media

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