In the end, while it may have been enough to save Alex Ferguson, it turns out even winning the FA Cup could not stop Louis van Gaal from being sacked by Manchester United.
The Dutchman was dismissed by the club last night, just 48 hours after he had lifted the FA Cup at Wembley following a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
Even then straight after the final whistle the writing appeared to be on the wall as Van Gaal walked into his post-match press conference with the trophy, only to be bombarded with questions about his future and talk of his former pupil Jose Mourinho replacing him.
Van Gaal remained defiant, alluding to the fact he still had one year to run on the three-year contract he signed during the summer of 2014, but many were already writing the 64-year-old’s obituaries after he failed to qualify for the Champions League.
An announcement had been expected early yesterday as the former Ajax and Bayern Munich boss arrived at United’s Aon Training Complex at around 8.45am, swiftly followed by employment lawyer Paul Gilroy QC.
Gilroy has long history of working with the League Managers Association and he acted on behalf of David Moyes during his sacking from Manchester United.
However it was not until 8:30pm, around 12 hours after Van Gaal had first arrived at the club’s training ground, that the Dutchman was officially sacked.
“It has been an honour to manage such a magnificent club as Manchester United FC, and in doing so, I have fulfilled a long-held ambition,” said Van Gaal in a statement last night.
“I am immensely proud to have helped United win the FA Cup for the 12th time in the club’s history. I have been privileged during my management career to have won 20 trophies but winning the FA Cup, which is steeped in so much history, will always be one of the most special achievements of my career.
“I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three-year plan. I believe that the foundations are firmly in place to enable the club to move forward and achieve even greater success.
“I hope winning the FA Cup will give the club a platform to build upon next season to restore the success that this passionate set of fans desire.
“Having managed in Holland, Spain and Germany, I had always hoped for the opportunity to manage in English football and be part of English culture. Both of these experiences have lived up to expectations and been fantastic.
“I thank my players and wish them well for next season. It has been a pleasure to work with them and it has been particularly rewarding to see so many young players take their chance to break into the first team and excel.
“I look forward to watching the continued development of these young players next season. I would also like to express my gratitude to the amazing United supporters. They are truly the best fans in the world.
“I am indebted to my support and coaching staff, who have given me their all during their time at the club. Never in my 25 years as a manager have I been so well supported in my role.
“Finally, my special thanks go to Alex Ferguson and Bobby Charlton for always making me and my family feel so welcome throughout my time as Manchester United manager.”
Van Gaal’s clear pride at winning the FA Cup was acknowledged by the club via a statement from executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, but it has ultimately not been enough to save the Dutchman’s job.
The club’s failure to secure a spot in next season’s Champions League and concerns over the team’s style of play have instead proved to be pivotal.
United have scored just 49 Premier League goals this season, while they have also ended up with a negative goal difference away from home. Furthermore, the club went 11 home games without scoring a first-half goal earlier in the campaign and their tally of 3,222 backwards passes was the most by any team.
It has all led to Van Gaal being sacked with a year still to run on his deal at Old Trafford as all eyes now turn to Mourinho.
During the long wait for Van Gaal to be officially removed from his post yesterday, removal men were spotted outside Mourinho’s London home.
The former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss is the clear favourite to take over at Old Trafford having been out of work since December, while also previously expressing his desire to continue working in England.
Following Van Gaal’s sacking, United have now promised that a decision on the Dutchman’s successor as manager will be announced soon.
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