Manchester United finally announced the sacking of Louis van Gaal on Monday after nearly three full days of intense speculation – but did their PR department no favours in the process.
Although news broke before lunchtime on Monday that Van Gaal’s contract was to be terminated, official confirmation from Manchester United themselves did not come until around 8.30 later that evening – though the was later revealed to be at the behest of Van Gaal himself to allow him enough time to depart for the Algarve on holiday.
In any event, confusion reigned over just when and how the former boss learned he was to be replaced, but a report in today’s Mirror claims that Van Gaal was told in a phone call several weeks ago – by his successor, José Mourinho.
Rather than word coming from his Man United board, it was apparently a call from Mourinho that hammered home the the point that the end was nigh for the Dutchman.
Van Gall had hitherto believed that he was safe to see out his contract at Old Trafford, regardless of the side’s eventual league position at the end of the season.
Intriguingly, the report shows just how inconsequential finishing in the top four was to Van Gaal’s hopes for staying – Mourinho is alleged to have called his former Barcelona mentor several weeks ago (i.e. before the West Ham match) to inform him that Manchester United had been sounding him out about taking the Old Trafford hotseat at the end of the season.
Rather that the call being an exercise in gloating, José is believed to have made the call in order to preserve their long-standing friendship. It remains to be seen if that tactic has worked, however, given the fact that both he and his agent Jorge Mendes have effectively been touting the former Chelsea boss for the position since he left Stamford Bridge last December.
Van Gaal received official confirmation of his dismissal early yesterday morning, before departing the Carrington training ground for the final time before 5pm yesterday afternoon.
Mendes is travelling to Manchester from China today to finalise an agreement with Manchester United, and an announcement confirming Mourinho’s appointment could be made as soon as tomorrow barring any late hiccups.