EPL

Van Gaal saddened by Di Maria criticism but healed similar rift with Depay: 'Now we kiss!'

By Sports Desk December 08, 2022

Louis van Gaal entertained the media in Doha on Thursday as he responded to criticism from Angel Di Maria by showing his close bond with Memphis Depay, another of his former Manchester United players.

Netherlands coach Van Gaal signed Di Maria at United, but the Argentina international struggled to settle in the Premier League.

The winger, who hopes to face Van Gaal's Oranje at the World Cup on Friday, subsequently described the ex-United manager as "the worst coach of my career".

Van Gaal was offered a reminder of this comment at his pre-match news conference, but he was in jovial mood as he responded sat next to Depay.

"Angel Di Maria is simply a really good football player," Van Gaal said to an increasingly amused press room.

"At the time when he played for Manchester, he had a lot of personal issues, there was a break-in at his house. That also affected his fitness that year.

"The fact he would refer to me as the worst trainer, that is one of the very few players that ever said that. Usually it is the other way around.

"So, I think that is sad. I don't like that Angel said that on one occasion. It is a pity, but that's just the way it is.

"A head coach sometimes needs to take decisions that don't always end well. There's someone next to me here, Memphis Depay, and the same happened to him.

"Memphis also played for Manchester, and now we kiss each other, mouth-to-mouth. No, we're not going to do that now.

"That's just how things pan out in football. People are laughing now, but I didn't select Memphis for the [FA Cup] final – now that's not nice.

"Believe me, a head coach doesn't do this without a reason. It may well have been a wrong decision, but just look at how we are dealing with each other, working with each other now. Things are quite different.

"I'm not allowed to kiss him on the mouth, he doesn't want that, quite unfortunate, but it's fine by me."

Van Gaal was also asked about Bastian Schweinsteiger, who played for him both at United and at Bayern Munich.

Schweinsteiger's Germany eliminated Argentina from three consecutive World Cups between 2006 and 2014, and he has been in contact with Van Gaal.

"That is private. I'm sorry, it's private. I cannot say anything about that," Van Gaal said of their conversations. "I just think it's great that he's doing this.

"I ask him as well, because he's a reporter now and sees all these matches, and he was a player with brains. Football is being played with brains.

"I do learn things that my scouts have not said so far, which is positive. He is a fan of the Netherlands now that Germany is out."

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