Former Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva says working under manager Louis van Gaal was one of the worst experiences of his football career.
Rafael, who joined Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir from Olympic Lyonnaise this summer, spent eight years at Old Trafford and played under Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, caretaker manager Ryan Giggs before the Dutchman joined the club in 2014.
The outspoken Brazilian then only played ten games under Van Gaal before moving to Lyon and in an interview with The Athletic, he did not mince his words about what he thinks of the Dutch boss.
‘When they said Van Gaal was the manager, a lot of friends called me. I could not believe it, as a lot of people told me he does not like Brazilians (because of their style of play),’ he said.
‘They told me, “The first thing he is going to do is take you out.”
‘Actually, it was the second thing because on the first day, he did not speak to me. On the second day, he said, ‘You can leave.’
‘I had not even trained and he said that. I could not believe it.’
‘He did not explain why. He said, “You will not play this season, I am not going to use you, if you want to leave, you leave.”
‘I said, “OK.” I still tried to battle for my place. I stayed one year with him. It was so, so hard. He is one of the worst people I have worked with.
‘I played 10 games with this guy. It was unbelievable. I don’t know how I played 10 games for him.’
Rafael also talked about Van Gaal’s endless team talks, something that has been cited previously as a source of conflict between players and manager at the club.
‘Every day, after breakfast, after lunch, or if we had dinner together, he would speak to everyone for 15 minutes about training, about what has happened, about everything, about life.
‘You know when you start to stop listening to what someone is saying, because they speak so much? He wanted to show he could speak. But it was every day! All the time!
‘We watched him talk, for 15 minutes, with all due respect, about sh-t. That is the truth, man. It was sh-t.’
The 30-year-old says that whilst Sir Alex Ferguson appeared to care about his players, Van Gaal did not and that he would disagree with things just to be difficult.
‘Ferguson … knew how to maximise every player,’ the 30-year-old remembered.
‘Van Gaal was the opposite. He didn’t care how people are, he just wanted to think about himself — “I am like this, you respect me, you do like I want.” That’s how he speaks. Players get tired of this.
‘You don’t need to speak all the time.
‘You know when the coach does something just to say, “NO”? He agrees with this thing (deep down) but he is going to change it just to say, “I am the boss.” So he did that. A lot of things.’
The Brazilian believes that Van Gaal did not like players who played with their heart on their sleeve such as himself and preferred a cooler type of character.
‘Van Gaal is a guy who does not like players who play with their heart. This is my thinking. He liked calm players, composed players.
‘But you cannot have only composed players. You need some heart and instinct.
‘If you tell me one team who plays only with “composure” players, tell me. It is not normal.
‘Sometimes, it is instinct and you need that. Van Gaal hated players like that. You talk about United culture: this is Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Nemanja Vidic.
‘Look at these players. Look at the character. Van Gaal did not like character because he was a character. He didn’t want anyone to say some shit (to him).’