Manchester United players were left ‘bemused’ by Louis van Gaal’s bizarre decision to substitute Juan Mata for Nick Powell in the 69th minute of the 3-2 defeat to Wolfsburg on Tuesday night.
It was Mata who assisted Anthony Martial for the opening goal, but the technically-gifted playmaker was hauled off by Van Gaal - along with Bastian Schweinsteiger - for Powell and Michael Carrick, respectively, with 20 minutes left to play.
The Times have since discovered that the decision to sub off Mata, while United were trailing 2-1, was greeted with “bemusement” by the Spaniard’s teammates.
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Powell’s previous first-team appearance came in the humiliating 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup back in August 2014.
The 21-year-old was subsequently sent on loan to Leicester City, where his temporary contract was terminated early due to a lack of commitment in training, and earlier this season it was revealed he was considering quitting football altogether after becoming disillusioned with the sport.
It’s true that Powell had made a couple of appearances for the Under-21 side in recent weeks, but to throw him on for Mata in Manchester United’s most important match of the season so far was a baffling decision by Van Gaal.
United players frustrated under Van Gaal
The report also adds there is “mounting frustration and disenchantment” among the United players over Van Gaal’s approach and methods.
The veteran Dutch coach, 64, recently stated - per the Telegraph - that he will leave Old Trafford if he believes he has lost the Manchester United dressing room.
United fans might soon discover whether or not he really is a man of his word.
Manchester United fans: does Louis van Gaal deserve to be sacked? Let us know by leaving a comment below!