The hottest news doing the rounds in football circles is the premature sacking of Louis Van Gaal. The Dutchman lost his job, a year ahead of his three-year contract with Manchester United. The once formidable English Premier League side has been plagued with one problem after another for the last few seasons and it is no longer the same team since the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson bade good bye in 2013. Van Gaal had come to Old Trafford soon after the 2014 World Cup, when deep disenchantment prevailed among players under the then manager David Moyes. The Manchester United owners sacked Moyes and made way for LVG in July 2014. When he arrived at Old Trafford, the 64-year old Dutchman had announced that Man-U would be his last management assignment. LVG’s selection as Man-U manager was probably dictated by his creditable management of the Netherlands national side that reached the 2014 Brazil World Cup semifinals. But in two years since he took over, he couldn’t change much for Man-U. With United finishing at fifth place in the current EPL season, LVG was shown the door and will no longer be seen at Old Trafford. He could already be on his way to Portugal, where he has a holiday home in Vale do Lobo. In the meanwhile, ex-Chelsea manager John Mourinho is already waiting in the wings to take over as the new Man-U boss and that announcement is imminent.
After Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United in 2013 after a generation-long 26 years as the manager, the Club has failed to win a single Premier League title under David Moyes and LVG. The iconic Sir Ferguson joined in 1986 and during his tenure, Man-U won the EPL 13 times. It is a unique record since in the 105 old history of the English Premier League, Man-U’s total victory count is 20. It means that before Ferguson came to Old Trafford, Man-U had recorded only 7 victories in 85 years and Ferguson added 13 in the next 26. In addition to EPL wins, Sir Ferguson was also instrumental in winning 25 other trophies, including 2 UEFA Champions League and 5 FA Cups. For his services to the cause of football, Alex Ferguson was knighted in 1999. During Sir Ferguson’s reign, Manchester United became a world-famous brand and their fan-following spread to every corner of the world. But in the three years since Ferguson’s departure, the Club’s fortunes have taken a nose dive. The tenure of David Moyes, who stepped into Sir Ferguson’s shoes, was mired in one controversy or another.
Ironically, David Moyes was handpicked by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 and therefore expectation ran high as he moved to Old Trafford. But Moyes didn’t have the same command over the players and his ill-fated stint brought just 57 points from 34 league games before he was sacked in April 2014. Under Moyes, Man-U collected one season’s lowest points in their long illustrious history. Moyes made way for LVG in July 2014, soon after the Brazil World Cup. His arrival was expected to reverse the Club’s downfall under Moyes and he showed signs of improvement in the first year. In the 2014-2015 EPL under LVG, Man-U picked up 65 points in 33 matches and they finished fourth in EPL. But 2015-16 was worse under him with the FA Cup win against Crystal Palace being the only consolation. No improvement in EPL performance and losing UEFA Champions League qualification to Manchester City became too much for the owners and they decided to get rid of LVG, even if it meant coughing out a lot of money as per the terms of his 3-year contract.
As fate would have it, Van Gaal heard the news about his sacking from none other than his likely successor John Mourinho, who already has one foot in Old Trafford. Mourinho rang up the Dutchman and told him about the gist of events in the offing. Mourinho and Van Gaal had once worked together in Barcelona and they have stayed in contact ever since. Mourinho said he called LVG to preserve his long-standing friendship with the Dutchman and to ensure that ill feelings are avoided afterwards. Until then, LVG had miscalculated that he would be allowed to complete his contract.
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