Former Manchester United midfielder Anderson has recalled how Louis van Gaal‘s robotic style of football killed the spirit at Old Trafford.
The Brazilian, who joined Man United in 2007, joined International in 2015 following a difficult few years during which he couldn’t maintain a regular place in the side.
Van Gaal departed the club 18 months later following a campaign or turgid football and has been launching attacks at United ever since.
In an interview with ESPN‘s Andy Mitten, Anderson shed light on how he, along with Robin van Persie and Angel di Maria, fell out of love with the club under the Dutchman’s tenure.
“Then I came back to United and [Louis] van Gaal arrived (Anderson shakes his head),” he said.
“I respect Van Gaal, but football had changed and he was not successful anymore. He gave silly instructions for everything, even in training. He was like a robot. I decided to leave. I told Van Gaal that I wanted to leave. He said I could go.
“I was leaving a club, which wasn’t the same. The spirit was going, players were leaving. How did he let a player like Di Maria go so quickly? He’s a sick player. Van Persie lost the love, too. Everyone started saying: We’ll go.”
“Van Gaal’s philosophy was no longer working. It’s hard in the Premier League to play robotic: pass, pass, pass.
“I still watch Manchester. It makes me mad sometimes, but I believe United will come good. They have some great players like [Romelu] Lukaku, [Paul] Pogba and De Gea is amazing. This is why Mendes is so good; he had faith in De Gea when others lost theirs.”
Remembering that second season under Van Gaal in any real detail can be quite difficult – mainly because every performance seemed to melt into one whole moribund slew of soullessness, the same thing happening over and over again, football played at such a predictable, agonising tempo that you would be forgiven for thinking this was some kind of punishment for a crime in another life.
If anything, that period can only really be characterised as a feeling: a mixture of foreboding before the game, a growing sense of ennui when it started, the first prick of anger at half time, and then a blaze of fury, before despondency and quiet, begrudged acceptance took over. And repeat.
It is hard to identify why it happened, or what it really meant. But one thing is for sure: it wasn’t United – not even a little bit.