It’s safe to say that Morgan Schneiderlin did not enjoy his spell with Manchester United.
Morgan Schneiderlin will go down as one of the many signings who did not work out in the post-Alex Ferguson era of Manchester United but he believes that the manager at the time, Louis van Gaal, was to blame for his struggles with the Red Devils.
Schneiderlin joined United in 2015 for a fee in the region of £25 million and while he enjoyed his preseason training with his new teammates, things went downhill once the season kicked off under Louis van Gaal’s reign.
Schneiderlin admits that he struggled to adapt to Van Gaal’s management style, which involved stringent instructions and restrictive measures on the freedom of players.
In a far-ranging interview with The Athletic, Schneiderlin explained that Van Gaal’s micromanagement and insistence on abiding by his strategy at all times shackled some of United’s most creative players at the time.
Schneiderlin said: “A style which was too strict. We were told: ‘When you have the ball you have to do this’ instead of playing with my gut like I had done with Pochettino and Koeman. The worse thing for a football player is when you think too much. I started to think: ‘Ah, the manager wants me to do this’. You lose your instinct, your start to force things, you miss passes, you arrive too late for a challenge. Your confidence goes down.
“I would play a very good game and then a very bad game. I wasn’t confident enough. I started to complain to my wife. It hurts me even now that I couldn’t play freely at United. The pressure of the club was no problem to me. I like pressure, I need pressure and adrenaline. The fans were good to me in the street. The problem was me because I knew I had so much to give but I couldn’t give it because I felt restricted.”
Van Gaal, who succeeded David Moyes at Old Trafford, was not a fan favourite during his time with United and plenty of players at the club also struggled to warm to the Dutchman.
According to Schneiderlin, Van Gaal would even have a say on when his players could eat their meals at the training ground.
Schneiderlin continued: “Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so upset, but at the time that’s how it was. You had to wait until the manager told you that you could eat.
“These things work when the players are 19 and 20, but not when you have older players. Van Gaal had proved that he was a top manager, but I don’t think we needed those ideas at the time.”
Schneiderlin also revealed that he envied fellow countryman Anthony Martial, who was new to England and could not quite understand Van Gaal’s instructions so played as he would naturally.
“The most successful players were the young ones who were not bothered by that — Rashford, Martial,” Schneiderlin explained.
“They played with freedom and because Martial couldn’t understand what the manager was telling him, he just played with freedom anyway. I wish that was me; just agreeing with everything the manager said.”