Louis van Gaal’s turbulent reign at Manchester United is over, with Monday’s belated confirmation paving the way for Jose Mourinho to return to management.
Saturday’s FA Cup triumph could not disguise a disappointing campaign in terms of style and substance, with United failing to qualify for the Champions League.
Van Gaal has paid with his job as United put the divisive Dutchman out of his misery on Monday evening, two seasons into a three-year deal.
Former Chelsea manager Mourinho, who worked with Van Gaal at Barcelona, appears a shoo-in for the vacated post.
“Louis van Gaal is to leave Manchester United, with immediate effect,” confirmed United in a statement.
United’s statement added “a decision on a successor as manager will be announced soon” as executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward paid tribute to Van Gaal.
“I would like to thank Louis and his staff for their excellent work in the past two years culminating in winning a record equalling 12th FA Cup for the Club (and securing him a title in four different countries),” he said. “He has behaved with great professionalism and dignity throughout his time here. He leaves us with a legacy of having given several young players the confidence to show their ability on the highest stage. Everyone at the club wishes him all the best in the future.
Van Gaal himself issued a statement last night, in which he acknowledged the “honour” of managing Manchester United.
He said: “It has been an honour to manage such a magnificent club as Manchester United FC, and in doing so, I have fulfilled a long-held ambition.
“I am immensely proud to have helped United win the FA Cup for the 12th time in the club’s history. I have been privileged during my management career to have won 20 trophies but winning the FA Cup, which is steeped in so much history, will always be one of the most special achievements of my career.
“I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three-year plan. I believe that the foundations are firmly in place to enable the club to move forward and achieve even greater success.
“I hope that winning the FA Cup will give the club a platform to build upon next season to restore the success that this passionate set of fans desire.
“Having managed in Holland, Spain and Germany, I had always hoped for the opportunity to manage in English football and be part of English culture. Both of these experiences have lived up to expectations and been fantastic.
“I thank my players and wish them well for next season. It has been a pleasure to work with them and it has been particularly rewarding to see so many young players take their chance to break into the first team and excel. I look forward to watching the continued development of these young players next season.
“Thank you to the owners and board of Manchester United for giving me the opportunity to manage this great club.”
Speculation about Mourinho replacing Van Gaal ratcheted up yesterday when removal men were spotted outside his London home.