Louis van Gaal found out that he would be sacked as manager of Manchester United when Jose Mourinho phoned him earlier this month and revealed he had been sounded out about the Old Trafford job.
This is according to the Mirror, who understand Mourinho rang the veteran Dutch coach in order to “preserve his long-standing friendship” with his old Barcelona mentor.
The Portuguese tactician, who will sign a three-year contract with the Red Devils, wanted to ensure his relationship with Van Gaal wouldn’t be affected when it emerged he was the manager United wanted to appoint.
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Van Gaal was sacked on Monday morning following a meeting with the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward at Carrington and is understood to have been left “furious” by the decision, believing he would be allowed to see out the third and final year of his contract.
However, the Mirror’s report disputes that theory, claiming Van Gaal knew he was a “dead man walking” regardless of whether United finished inside the top four or won the FA Cup.
And this is backed up by Van Gaal’s magnanimous statement, released via Manchester United’s official website on Monday evening.
Van Gaal was sacked over style of football
That the Red Devils missed out on Champions League football by finishing fifth in the Premier League table meant there was never any realistic chance of the club sticking with Van Gaal, whose defensive style of football often bored supporters.
BBC Sport understand that Van Gaal was sacked mainly because of the poor quality of football played over the course of the 2015-16 campaign.
United’s tally of 49 goals is their lowest ever Premier League total.
Mourinho to be announced within 48 hours
Mourinho will hold further talks with United today and an announcement over his appointment is expected to be made within the next 48 hours.
The former Chelsea boss is set to earn a basic salary of £10 million a year - although that figure could rise to a cool £15 million if he achieves various success-related clauses.
It’s believed that he has demanded autonomy over United’s transfer policy, team selection and scouting network before giving Woodward the green light.
United's coaching staff will also change
Rui Faria and goalkeeper coach Silvino Louro are expected to join Mourinho at Old Trafford after Van Gaal’s Dutch coaching staff - assistant Albert Stuivenberg, goalkeeper coach Frans Hoek and performance analyst Max Reckers - were also dismissed on Monday.
Ryan Giggs, meanwhile, has received an offer to stay at the club but may decide to end his 29-year association with the English giants.
Did Manchester United handle Louis van Gaal’s sacking badly? Have your say by leaving a comment below.