As we wait for Manchester United's manager-sacking machinery to creak into action, we must fill our time with the now-traditional trashing of the previous manager's methods. Luckily for us, the Guardian, the Independent and the Telegraph have all stepped up, carrying extremely similar stories from within the United dressing room about Louis van Gaal's peculiar methods.
So, we now know that United's players took exception to Van Gaal's post-match briefings -- in which he would "crucify" players in front of one another -- and that, after an intervention from Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, these were replaced with emails. Sadly, says the Graun ...
by that stage a lot of the players were so disillusioned many ignored the emails or redirected them straight to their trash. Van Gaal suspected as much and had a tracker fitted so he could check if the emails were opened and for how long. It became a game of cat and mouse. Some players opened the emails on their mobiles, then left their phones on the side and wandered off for 20 minutes.
Our headline notwithstanding, Van Gaal does seem to have been difficult to work with and for. And the football seems to have been as miserable to play as it was to watch. Says the Telegraph:
while Van Gaal brought a much better CV to the United job [than Moyes] his approach was even more prescriptive. Defenders were told how far to stand from one another and players were ordered to remain in set positions. It was classic Dutch football spatial thinking but was accompanied by slow passing and a preoccupation with possession over penetration. United's strikers are said to have felt that the ball would move around sideways and backwards in midfield without ever reaching the forward areas.
Also this story appears in all three. The Telegraph says that it was "one of [Van Gaal's] signings", while the Indy's version is slightly more circumspect:
the story of one player asking the club chef to cook him two hard-boiled eggs to take home as he did not know how to boil them himself underlines the sense within the squad that too much is now done for the younger element of the team.
There's plenty more in all the above, and nobody comes out of it particularly well. What a dignified business this all is.