Louis Van Gaal

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Van Gaal: Woodward has ‘zero understanding of football’

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Tell us how you really feel, LVG.

Former Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal apparently has more in common with old pal Jose Mourinho than we even knew, lashing out at Red Devils CEO Ed Woodward in a recent interview.

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Saying he accepts that he was fired when Mourinho was on the market and adding that it made business sense to the club — a bit of a jab given what you’re about to read — Van Gaal says United is lagging behind the top teams in the world due to a lack of football in the front office.

From Sky Sports:

“At Bayern, the people in charge are football men. I always appreciated that,” Van Gaal told German magazine 11 Freunde. “At Manchester United, on the other hand, Ed Woodward was installed as CEO – somebody with zero understanding of football who was previously an investment banker.”

Somewhere, Mourinho just raised his glass to the sky while simultaneously doing the chef’s kiss with his other hand.

Woodward probably doesn’t care too much, with only the Glazer Family above him and the business end going fairly well off the field. With a big retool underway, however, Woodward has to know that the first transfer window of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era — the fourth boss post-Alex Ferguson — is a big one for not just the club but his reputation.

Man United: We have funds for squad rebuild

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Manchester United will launch a huge rebuild this summer, according to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

In a call to investors on Thursday, United’s leading man revealed their third quarter financial results and said he will use the success of the business side of the club to rebuild the playing squad and give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the resources he needs this summer.

Despite finishing sixth in the Premier League this season and failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season, United’s performance off the pitch is on the up. Revenue is up 3.4 percent to $194.6 million and there was a 94 percent rise in operating profits to $18.1 million.

Here’s more from Woodward:

“Everyone at the club – the board, the manager, the squad and all the staff are resolute in our desire to get United back to the top of English football. We continually look to improve staff on and off the pitch to achieve this,” Woodward said. “The strength of our business means we have the financial resources to continue to provide a solid foundation for backing the manager and creating success on the pitch. This, as ever, remains our number one goal.” 

“The season that has just ended clearly didn’t end the way we hoped, finishing in sixth place and with a disrupted managerial change part way through,” Woodward said. ” However, Ole and the squad battled back from mid-December to put us in contention to qualify for the Champions League next season, but ultimately we came up short. While the last few weeks were disappointing, we are delighted to have confirmed the appointment of Ole as our manager on a three-year contract.”

It seems like Solskjaer will have money to spend, but that hasn’t fared too well for his predecessors at United. Both Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho spent plenty of cash but failed to rebuild this United squad in a manner which shows they are on the path to becoming perennial Premier League contenders once again.

Get ready for a summer of big spending from United, as Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, David De Gea and Romelu Lukaku have all been linked with moves away from the Red Devils.

Big change is needed, and it seems like Woodward is finally ready to accept it. This could pretty much be his last roll of the dice after lurching from one expensive mistake to another in recent seasons.

When will Ed Woodward be held accountable for Man United failures?

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Six seasons, five managers, three Champions League qualifications, zero Premier League titles.

That is the Manchester United story since they last trimphed over the English top flight in Sir Alex Ferguson‘s final season as Red Devils boss.

The leadership has been chopped and changed many times over, but there is one constant: Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who ascended to his current role in 2012 and was made top operational executive a year later after the departure of David Gill. Since Woodward took full control of the club, Manchester United has spiraled completely out of control, with the luster of 13 Premier League titles almost fully rusted away.

While Manchester United has collected three trophies under his watch, the two most coveted – the Premier League and Champions League titles – have eluded the storied club, instead settling for an FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League title (plus two Community Shields, as Jose Mourinho would tell you).

Still, Woodward has somehow escaped heavy criticism for his rocky tenure, with the first-team managers – far more publicly accountable figures than club executives – taking the brunt of the flak for losing streaks, negative tactics, mediocre youth development, and shambolic defending. Yet Woodward remains unscathed, free of full-scale scrutiny while everything he touches turns to ash.

Woodward’s history in the transfer market has been downright abysmal. Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Angel Di Maria, Fred, Eric Bailly, and Luke Shaw have all been purchased for enormous sums of money during Woodward’s time in charge, yet none of them have lived up to their financial burdens. It is impossible to truly know what Woodward’s exact role is in the transfer dealings, but as the top operational executive at the club, he is responsible for the consistent failures whether he has taken a hands-on approach or has delegated most of the duties to others. It’s time the buck stops at the top.

Since the start of the 2013 summer transfer window, Manchester United has shelled out a gargantuan $712 million in transfer net spend and the Red Devils are no closer to challenging for the Premier League title than when they began their quest to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. After losing to relegated Cardiff City to close out the 2018/19 Premier League season with little more than a whimper, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said it would take “a long time” for Manchester United to be in a position to compete for the league title. The Notwegian boss even dared to warn supporters to temper their expectations; the Europa League would be a reasonable ambition for the time being. Those words from a Manchester United mouthpiece like Solskjaer are a brutal indictment of Woodward and his leadership of the club over the past few years.

When Sir Alex departed, the team admittedly needed an overhaul. The legendary boss somehow squeezed one last triumph out of an old and dilapidated squad, as if fans needed yet another reason to revere the greatest manager the game has ever seen. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Dimitar Berbatov were all over 30 and on their way out of the club while David De Gea, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Rafael, Fabio, Jesse Lingard, Danny Welbeck, and Adnan Januzaj were all 22 years old or younger and looking for guidance and direction as they continued to develop.

Instead, they were met with chaos and instability, as David Moyes, Giggs, Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho all tried and failed to restore order to the club. None of the managers were given enough time to establish any sense of consistency, and it’s unclear whether any of them were good enough hires that things would have improved if given that luxury. Instead of embracing the period of transition, the club fell into a form of purgatory, hoping to maintain a steady ship while also understanding that things would not be the same. Woodward, a career accountant, may know what it takes to secure a lucrative sponsorship, but eventually they need the on-field results to match the claim of the world’s most popular club, or the financial leverage will wane.

While many players and managers have come and gone over the past few years, Woodward has remained the only constant figure, and the longer the club continues to rot, the more obvious his role in allowing the club to fester. Now, he wishes to bring on a technical director (see: Director of Football) to help with on-field decisions and player acquisitions, a smart choice in delegating the football responsibilities but also another hire to get right. And yet…he’s reportedly looking to hire Darren Fletcher, who literally retired as a player one week ago and has zero executive or managerial experience, in what feels like more of a PR move than anything of actual significance.

With this year’s sixth place finish – the club’s fourth finish outside the Premier League’s top four over the last six years – it is time fans direct their frustration and unhappiness further up the food chain. Ed Woodward must be held accountable for the failures of the club, or the glory days of (actually not that) long ago will become an even more distant memory with every passing year.

Report: Man United’s Herrera to sign with PSG

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Manchester United’s loss is Paris Saint-Germain’s gain.

According to Spanish publication AS, Ander Herrera is set to sign a four-year contract at PSG, after leaving Manchester United this summer on a free transfer. Herrera has allowed his contract to run down, with both he and Man United unable to agree to an extension or a transfer away from the club, resulting in him leaving as a free agent.

The report states Herrera will earn nearly $9 million per season as part of his new contract, a salary figure likely boosted by the lack of transfer fee.

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Herrera arrived at Manchester United as one of the great new hopes, a star for his hometown club Athletic Bilbao who led his team to the Europa League and Copa del Rey finals in 2012 and fourth place in La Liga in 2014. Herrera then followed that up with an almost $45 million transfer to Old Trafford. However, under Louis Van Gaal, the Spaniard never took the step necessary in his career to become a star in central midfielder for Man United. He started less than 20 Premier League matches and has only broken the 20-start mark in one season, in 2016-2017, when Man United finished fifth.

The slick passing midfielder showed at times a propensity to score goals and provide creative assists, but too often he was inconsistent, especially in the big matches. Considering that Man United are allowing Herrera to leave on a free transfer, it’s likely a loss that will mainly be felt in the pocketbook, unless Man United fails to find a suitable central midfield replacement.

Barcelona legend Xavi announces retirement

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Xavi Hernandez’s trophy-filled career has come to an end.

The veteran Spanish midfielder and Barcelona legend confirmed this morning that this past season in Qatar was his final as a player. Xavi’s Al-Sadd won the 22-game league season with 18 wins, 57 points and just one defeat.

“It’s been a privilege to play until the age of 39,” Xavi said, via Barcelona’s website. “This 2018/19 season will be my last as a player, but I hope the future offers the chance to be a coach.”

Xavi has been working as a player and youth coach since joining Al-Sadd in 2015 after winning the UEFA Champions League, and he’s expecting to become a coach full-time heading into the future.

“I like to see teams take the initiative on the field,” Xavi said. “To play attacking football, and to demonstrate the essence of what we all have loved since our infancy: possession-based football.”

Xavi finishes his career as one of the most decorated players in the history of soccer. Let’s split it up between club and country.

Born in Catalonia, Xavi joined La Masia in 1991. After rising through the ranks, he finally made his first team debut for Barcelona in a Copa Catalunya match late in the 1997-1998 season. That fall into the next season, Xavi, then just 18-years old, made his first team debut and became the breakthrough player of the season, playing under Louis Van Gaal.

Xavi went on to spend 17 seasons in Barcelona’s first team. He won La Liga eight times. He won the Copa del Rey three times, and the Spanish Super Cup another six occasions. On the European front, Xavi won the Champions League four times, the UEFA Super Cup twice and the FIFA Club World Cup twice. In Qatar, this was the first season Al-Sadd had won the title with him, making him go out a champion.

Internationally, Xavi helped Spain finally overcome its own shortcomings in midfield and led them to a four-year run with some of the most success anyone has ever seen. Xavi and Spain won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, and sandwiched in between was the 2010 World Cup victory, winning the soccer-mad nation’s first World Cup.

Xavi is one of the last few nearly one-club players, spending nearly his whole professional career at Barcelona. One will always wonder how he would have done had he come to the Premier League or to MLS later in his career. However, his time at Barcelona provided some of the most beautiful soccer people have ever seen, and his career as a player will not soon be forgotten.