Louis van Gaal managed to alienate a fair few players during his two-year spell at Manchester United, including two goalkeepers.
Victor Valdes was frozen out of the team for the entire 2015-16 campaign after allegedly refusing to play in an Under-21s match last season, while Sam Johnstone was left “furious” with the Dutch coach after he wasn’t allowed to leave Old Trafford on loan last summer.
Van Gaal kept Johnstone at United just in case David de Gea completed a switch to Real Madrid. But when that transfer collapsed at the eleventh hour, the 23-year-old failed to make the bench again in 2015.
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“Sam just wants to play football but Manchester United are holding him back and not even playing him,” his agent, Jordan Segal, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail earlier this season.
“He is a young goalkeeper and it is time for him to play regularly. If that is not at Manchester United, then it has to be elsewhere. This is an example of young English talent being held back by Van Gaal.”
Johnstone was loaned out to Preston North End in January but had effectively wasted five months when he could have been getting a first-team game somewhere in the Football League.
Johnstone 'likes' Van Gaal sacked photo
Judging by his Instagram activity this week, it seems the young ‘keeper isn’t disappointed - by any means - that Van Gaal and his Dutch coaching staff have now been sacked.
According to Manchester Evening News’ head of football, Alice McKeegan, Johnstone ‘liked’ an Instagram post reporting Ed Woodward had dismissed the 64-year-old.
Johnstone admits it's been a 'frustrating' season
On the same day, he posted a photo of himself, De Gea and Sergio Romero alongside the caption: “Another season finished, a very frustrating one!!! But been great to learn from DDG & Sergio. Time to chill and prepare for next season 👊🏽”.
Johnstone will need to leave United
Johnstone, in his pursuit of regular first-team football, will need to leave Old Trafford this summer - despite the fact Van Gaal has now been axed.
According to fresh reports today, De Gea is happy to stay at United now the Dutch coach has gone. The Spain international reportedly believes he will enjoy a better relationship with Jose Mourinho.
Romero, if he stays, will remain ahead of Johnstone, while there’s a small chance Mourinho may offer Valdes an opportunity to establish himself as the club’s back-up goalkeeper next season.
Who should be Manchester United’s back-up goalkeeper next season? Have your say by leaving a comment below.