EPL

Van Gaal says Woodward's Manchester United exit can 'make the difference' for Ten Hag success

By Sports Desk June 07, 2022

Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says Ed Woodward’s departure from Old Trafford could "make the difference" for new boss Erik ten Hag to have success with the Red Devils.

Van Gaal led United from 2014 to 2016, winning the 2016 FA Cup before being sacked two days later with Woodward in charge as the club’s vice-chairman at the time.

The 70-year-old Dutchman has been critical of United in the past for being too commercially focused, rather than being a football club.

Woodward had been at the helm at Old Trafford from 2012 until February this year, with Richard Arnold replacing him in the lead-up to Ten Hag’s appointment as the club’s new manager in April.

Ten Hag, who joined United from Dutch champions Ajax, faces a stern challenge reviving the club who has not won silverware since 2017, but Van Gaal believes change at the top may help his cause.

"There is now a new leadership," Van Gaal told reporters ahead of the Netherlands’ Nations League game with Wales in Cardiff on Wednesday.

"It was Woodward, now it's Richard Arnold, and that can make the difference so we have to wait and see.

"[Ten Hag] has a lot of confidence, so who am I to say something about that?"

Upon his appointment as United boss, Ten Hag had rebuffed Van Gaal’s claims about the club being too interested in commercial affairs.

"I draw my own line and I’m convinced that is not the case," Ten Hag said.

"I spoke to the directors about it and football is one, two, three these days."

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    The Selecao ran out 4-1 winners against South Korea on Monday as they sealed their place in the World Cup quarter-finals in style.

    Vinicius Junior opened the scoring before Neymar converted a penalty after a foul on Richarlison, who added a sublime third prior to Lucas Paqueta rounding off Brazil's haul.

    After Richarlison's goal, which capped a superb move, Tite celebrated with the Tottenham forward by performing the 'pigeon' dance.

    He was criticised by some sections of the media, but Tite has explained he meant no disrespect.

    "We try to adapt to the athletes' characteristics. They are young, I have to get closer to their language," he said.

    "One day we were training and I said to Richarlison 'if you score a goal, I'll dance'.

    "I told the players to hide me a little, I know about the visibility.

    "I didn't want it to have any other interpretation than the joy of the goal, the result, the performance, but not disrespect for the opponent or Paulo Bento, who I have great respect for."

    With his goal, meanwhile, Neymar matched Pele and Ronaldo as the third Brazil player to score at three different World Cups. 

    The Paris Saint-Germain star is also just one short of matching Pele's record goal haul of 77 for Brazil.

    "Achieving marks is a great source of pride," Neymar said.

    "I reached numbers that I would never have imagined reaching, that's always very good. It makes me very happy."

     

    Croatia stand between Brazil and a place in the last four.

    Brazil have never lost in four previous meetings with Croatia, with this their first meeting since a 2-0 friendly win in June 2018.

    Brazil are looking to reach the World Cup semi-final for the ninth time, with only Germany (12) doing so more often. 

    Croatia, runners-up in 2018, have reached at least the last four of the competition on both previous occasions they've made it out of the group stages (1998 and 2018).

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    Brazil – Neymar

    Neymar has been involved in 15 goals in his last 11 appearances for Brazil in all competitions (eight goals, seven assists), with each of his last six goals for the national side coming from the penalty spot.

    Last time out against South Korea, he became the first Brazil player on record (since 1966) to both score and provide an assist at three different World Cup tournaments.

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    Real Madrid star Luka Modric was not on the pitch as Croatia progressed past Japan on penalties in the last 16, but if Zlatko Dalic's team are to beat Brazil, the 37-year-old will surely be crucial.

    He will go up against former Madrid club-mate Casemiro, and will need the assistance of Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic, but if Modric can wield his influence, Croatia have a chance.

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    United lost 4-2 to the LaLiga strugglers at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Wednesday in their first of two warm-up matches before the season resumes in a fortnight.

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    United were without 15 players who have been, or still are, taking part in the World Cup, and Ten Hag used the friendly as a chance to give some younger players some action.

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    Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay, Donny van Beek and Martial were among the players to start for United, who face Real Betis next on Saturday.

    Reflecting on what was a first run-out for his players since beating Fulham 2-1 on November 13, Ten Hag said: "We've spoken about the game and we'll do so again tomorrow.

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    United's first game after the World Cup break is against Burnley in the EFL Cup last 16 on December 21, before facing Nottingham Forest in the Premier League six days later.

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    "It's not just a pleasure, it's an exceptional joy, given what this team has shown, this Moroccan team," he added.

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    Portugal stand in the way in Morocco's bid to become the first African nation to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, with a meeting set for Saturday at Al Thumama Stadium.

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