Louis van Gaal’s troubled two-year reign at Old Trafford came to a bitter end. Van Gaal said he was “very disappointed” to be sacked on Monday just 48 hours after leading United to victory in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace.
Missing out on a lucrative Champions League place proved the final straw for the club’s United States-based owners, the Glazer family, and they didn’t let United’s first piece of silverware since the 2013 retirement of legendary boss Alex Ferguson stop them from wielding the axe. With van Gaal having cleared out his desk at United’s Carrington training ground after talks over a settlement for the final year of his three-year contract, which had been worth a reported 6.4 million per year ( 9.2 million, 8.2 million euros), the path is clear for former Chelsea manager Mourinho to be confirmed as the new United boss on Tuesday.
Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea in December after a miserable campaign marred by a series of rifts with the club’s star players that eventually became intolerable to owner Roman Abramovich as the team, champions just months earlier, languished near the relegation zone. Now the 53-year-old will hope to restore his reputation by restoring the sparkle to United’s own tarnished image.
Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes is said to be arriving in Manchester on Tuesday to tie up a deal that has been widely reported in the British media, setting the stage for one of the sport’s most intriguing characters to at last manage United after a glittering career that so far features 21 major trophies, including three Premier League crowns and two Champions League titles.
From the moment, Mourinho danced a jubilant jig down the Old Trafford touchline after a late goal from Costinha gave his Porto side the draw they needed to eliminate Alex Ferguson’s men from the 2004 Champions League, the colourful and controversial Portuguese has seemed destined to manage United. He thought his time had come when Ferguson retired, but concerns over his volatile nature prompted United to turn to the more conservative David Moyes instead.
Mourinho, then in charge of Real Madrid, never wasted a chance to take a swipe at Barcelona manager Guardiola during their time in Spain. But it was Guardiola who had the better of it, with Mourinho winning just three of their 16 meetings. The duo will go head-to-head for the
first time when United face City in the pre-season International Champions Cup.