Chris Smalling is now referred to as “Pele” by Louis van Gaal as the Manchester United manager admits he still struggles to remember the defender’s first name.
Van Gaal famously called Smalling “Mike” at a press conference in San Jose on United’s pre-season tour last July and he blundered again by calling the centre-back “Michael” following the 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow four months later.
Van Gaal dropped another clanger on Friday when he twice referred to Will Keane by his twin brother’s name Michael.
The United manager, who sold Michael Keane to Burnley last year, chuckled after being informed about the mistake before admitting he had practically given up on trying to remember the first name of the victim of his misidentification.
When speaking about Will Keane’s potential route back into the first team squad following his return from Preston, Van Gaal said: “Now Michael Keane has to do it by himself.”
After being told he had got the striker’s name wrong, Van Gaal added with a hearty laugh: “Or Will Keane… Michael is an easy name for me!
“I said to ‘Mike’ Smalling that I call him Pele because he had a fantastic move so it is easier to call him Pele now.”