Louis van Gaal admits Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick approached him earlier this season because they had concerns about dressing room morale at Manchester United.
Reports this week suggested some United players were unhappy with aspects of Van Gaal’s management, principally the style of the team’s play and the number of team meetings held by the Dutchman.
Van Gaal conceded United’s captain and vice-captain aired their worries with him in a private meeting recently.
”Rooney and Michael Carrick came to me and said: ‘The dressing room is flat,’” the United manager said.
There was no sense from Van Gaal that he felt the visit from the two senior professionals amounted to a mutiny.
Instead, Van Gaal said he welcomed the dialogue with Carrick and Rooney, and insisted he has a strong bond with his squad.
He said: “I think I have a superb relationship with my players. In my career as a manager, I didn’t have so many who come to say something about the atmosphere in the dressing room or the way we train, or something like that.
“But it is very positive that they are coming to you and that they trust you.” The story leaked to the media has clearly irked the manager.
To emphasise his point, he raised his voice in the press conference, mimicking the song fans sing about him while smashing his fist into his palms.
An animated Van Gaal added: “The fans are shouting every week ’Louis van Gaal’s army! Louis van Gaal’s army!’ They are very satisfied with Louis van Gaal and the players are also satisfied with me.”
With the number of incomings and outgoings at the club this summer, Van Gaal always felt there would be a couple of bumps in the road when it came to his players adapting to his management style.
“I can say only that I have a very good relationship with my players, but it is logical now that only nine are left from the initial group,” the former Barcelona manager said.“The others I have bought will not say I am a lousy manager.”
Van Gaal has recalled David de Gea to his squad after the goalkeeper stunned the world by signing a new contract with United. Eleven days after coming within minutes of joining Real Madrid, De Gea signed a new four-year contract at United worth £200,000 (272,000 euro) a week.
The Spaniard was left out of Van Gaal’s squad for the opening six matches because he felt he could not focus properly because of Madrid’s interest.
But, now that his “suffering” has ended, De Gea is training with his peers and could feature in today’s game against Liverpool.
Van Gaal refused to confirm whether De Gea would start the game against United’s bitter rivals, but the Dutchman clearly thinks the 24-year-old is free of the mental turmoil caused by the longest transfer saga of the summer.
“Will he play? I will have to judge the session and he knows that,” the manager said. “It’s logical that his head is now empty and he can concentrate on the match.
“That is a big change from three or four weeks before, so I hope I can see that and give him his first start.”
Van Gaal admits he was braced to lose the two-time player of the year.
“If Madrid paid the price and had the papers in order at the right time, he would have been sold,” Van Gaal said.
“Everything can happen, especially at the end, and I had hope. Despite all the media saying he was going to Madrid, but I didn’t sell him and he is here.
“I asked (executive vice-chairman) Ed (Woodward) if it is true that United sent the papers too late and he said ‘no’.
“The information is sufficient and at that time I thought only what De Gea was suffering, but it is the world of football and it is a crazy world.”
De Gea wants to draw a line under the whole saga.
“I am delighted to be starting this new chapter in my United career,” said the keeper, who has played 175 times for United in four years.
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