Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Louis van Gaal has attempted to quash reports of a “mutiny” among Manchester United’s players despite admitting Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick led a delegation to express their concern about the mood in the team’s dressing room.
Reports emerged this week saying United captain Rooney and senior midfielder Carrick had held crisis talks with the disciplinarian Dutch manager over his management style and tactical preferences.
Van Gaal, who should have been basking in the success of signing goalkeeper David de Gea to a new long-term contract, instead had to respond to the claims when he faced the media on Friday.
“Rooney and Carrick came to me and said the dressing room is flat — they told me because they wanted to help me,” Van Gaal said.
“I communicate not only with my captains, but they try to warn me. I then went to my dressing room and discussed with my players and we discussed a lot of aspects but not what some have written.
“I think I have a superb relationship with my players. Maybe you have to consider how many players are coming to the manager to say something.
“In my career as a manager, I didn’t have so many who come to say something about the atmosphere in the dressing room or the way we train, or something like that.
“But it is very positive that they are coming to you and that they trust you.”
Van Gaal’s positive spin on the encounter cannot conceal the fact that United have made a difficult start to the new campaign, with the spotlight being placed firmly on the club’s transfer activity and a huge turnover in players.
The United manager believes that the exit of numerous senior players, in the little over 12 months that he has been in charge at Old Trafford, has contributed to the downbeat mood in the first team camp.
“I have read things that we haven’t talked about,” he said. “It is the same story as last year, but the consequence of the philosophy is that we have to release players.
“The whole dressing room has been changed. Can you imagine when your friend must leave? What are your feelings then?
“But the fans are very satisfied and the players are satisfied.
“Some players are coming to me to apologize about what has been said in the papers.
“I say always what I feel and how it is and I can say only that I have a very good relationship with my players.”
One issue that appears resolved, for the time being at least, is the future of Spain goalkeeper de Gea who was the subject of a failed move by Real Madrid on deadline day.
De Gea has signed a four-year contract worth a reported £200,000 ($308,000, 272,000 euros) a week, although the signing has done little to quell rumours that he will still move to Real next year with the new deal serving simply to ensure that United gain the maximum possible fee for his sale.
“Yes, because it is confirmation of what I am always saying, that transfers are a process,” said van Gaal when asked if he expected the keeper to stay with his club.
“I had hope until the end. I am very happy that David de Gea stays because I believe he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.”
Van Gaal also insisted young French striker Anthony Martial, purchased from Monaco for an initial £36 million on deadline day, has been brought in with an eye on the future.
“He is the best of his age, and we need a striker in the future,” van Gaal said.
“So we can wait a year and then he is £10 million more expensive, but now we can build him up and at the right time he can enter the game.”
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