Ronald de Boer has warned Manchester United that in Jose Mourinho they’ll be appointing a manager with very similar qualities to Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal was widely criticised for overseeing an uninspiring style of football and for a reported dictatorial manner during his two years in charge and Mourinho is expected to be confirmed as his successor.
De Boer played under fellow Dutchman Van Gaal at Ajax before joining him at Barcelona, where Mourinho was his assistant. He remains in contact with Van Gaal via his wife Truus, who he sent a text message to before his exit was announced.
Having worked under both managers and seen reports of player disillusionment at Old Trafford, he believes there is a risk of the same. He also, however, expects Mourinho to improve their disappointing results.
“He is similar,” said De Boer, 46. “Most of the time what I know – and it’s the same with Mourinho – you hate him or you love him. People run away with the impression of Mourinho and it’s the same with Van Gaal.
“There will always be players who are not playing who will dislike him. Always. But generally most of the players will for sure like Van Gaal, the way that he treated them and took his managing role in the team.
“(Mourinho) is very good. He can shape a team and go straight for results. He is like Van Gaal, a workaholic and prepares perfectly on how to win. Sometimes it is not pretty but he knows how to grind out wins. That is what you get.
“I sent (Truus) a message, ‘Did you pack your bags already?’ and she said ‘Yes’. It was on Sunday I think.”
De Boer on Man Utd’s academy
Some of the few positives from Van Gaal’s reign surround the introductions of trainees Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Jesse Lingard to United’s first team.
He also recruited the promising Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay, ultimately respecting United’s traditions of encouraging younger players.
There are reports Zlatan Ibrahimovic – like Rashford, a striker – could follow Mourinho to United, and it is those traditions De Boer is concerned may get lost, even if he believes Depay can prove himself where he has so far struggled.
“I worry about Man Utd’s academy, can it have an affect on the players on the pitch?” he said. “If you get a foreign legion again – results, prizes for winning, people forget that – but people love to see their own youth coming up and being the local hero. And that is the risk when you take Mourinho.
“Mourinho is a manager in my eyes who goes straight for ‘arrived’ players, experienced players, who can directly fulfill that job. Some young players: not so good.
“Maybe (Rashford) will be picked with the national team. He will get a chance for sure. But maybe Mourinho will think, ‘Okay, Rashford, nice, but I need an experienced one also with him’.
“And then the experienced one will play and Rashford won’t play. That will be critical, of course, for his career, and he must make it so difficult (not to drop him).
“Memphis is still a young lad and he has adapt. Sometimes it takes one or two years. I’m sure he has the quality to be a superstar. He can really do it.”