Manchester United hero Wayne Rooney has said that he was “devastated” when he learned of Louis van Gaal’s departure from the club.
Van Gaal moved to Old Trafford in 2014 after leading Holland in the World Cup, replacing David Moyes at the helm after the Scotsman’s dismal year in charge.
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.
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Rooney also claimed that he believed his former side would have been “so much stronger” if they had kept Dutchman Van Gaal at the club.
“I was devastated when Louis was sacked,” Rooney said. “For me, it was an absolute joy to work with him. We should have kept him for a third season. We would have been so much stronger.
“I felt things were improving and players started to understand his vision. In those two years I learned more than under any other
“This is why I will be forever grateful to him. Not just for making me captain, but also for all the trust and belief he had in me.
“We didn’t have the best team in the league anyway, but we could not afford to have 12 players injured.
“Our best XI was good enough to play in the top four, but once we got injuries we got in trouble because we did not have the same quality in the squad as in the years before.”
Rooney also opened up on how Van Gaal acted as an inspiration for his ambitions to become a manager in the future.
“At the time it was good for me because I had decided that I wanted to become a manager,” he said.
“And working with Louis in that way was priceless in my opinion, because I could learn so much from him. I could not have wished for a better example.”
Van Gaal has also spoken about his Old Trafford departure in recent weeks, firstly blaming the club’s “evil genius” executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward for his sacking.
Afterwards, however, the Dutchman opened up further and said it was the “biggest surprise” of his life to learn of his sacking after leading United to FA Cup glory.