Former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has revealed that it was the “biggest surprise” of his life when the club sacked him in 2016.
Having sacked David Moyes a year into his six-year contract, Dutchman Van Gaal was brought in in 2014 after guiding the Netherlands in the World Cup.
After a trophy-less first season which ended with United finishing fourth in the Premier League, Van Gaal guided the Red Devils to FA Cup glory in his second season.
However, he was sacked two days after the Wembley showpiece – with a year remaining on his contract – with Jose Mourinho brought in to replace him.
Van Gaal recently blamed “evil genius” Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, for his sacking, but has opened up further on his Old Trafford departure in an interview with the Sunday Mirror.
“The hardest thing was trying to survive as Manchester United’s manager when I had my head in a noose for six months,” the 68-year-old said.
“From January until the end of the season, my wife Truus warned me. She is a woman – and a woman has an instinct for things like this.
“I did not see what Woodward was up to, but women have different qualities than men. I really did not sense that they were plotting something.
“I was wholly convinced that I’d be able to see out my contract and have a third season at United. And it was the biggest surprise of my life when Woodward sacked me.”
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Van Gaal also called on Mourinho to publicise his view on taking over from the Dutchman, adding that he felt he was “waiting to be hanged” in the six months before his eventual departure.
“In my opinion, it should be Mourinho who should speak up about what happened – if he would be prepared to do so,” Van Gaal said.
“But Mourinho does not have to call me any more. I was left with my head in a noose, waiting to be hanged all that time after January.
“But I still kept the trust of the players, so I am proud. It was a massive achievement that year.”
Van Gaal’s only piece of silverware at Old Trafford came courtesy of Jesse Lingard’s extra-time goal and Van Gaal credits it as his biggest achievement to date.
“You know, what I achieved at Man United I consider the biggest performance in my entire career,” he said.
“Bigger than any other trophy or what I did with Holland in the World Cup in Brazil. And, for more than one reason, I see my work at United as bigger than anything else.
“We won the FA Cup with 10 men in extra-time at Wembley. The FA Cup is the most prestigious national cup competition in the world, so I was immensely proud to win that.”
In other news, Sunday’s newspapers also reported that former United winger Ryan Giggs has persuaded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to hunt a £20million raid on a Wales star.