Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United made a huge mistake when they sacked Louis van Gaal.
And Rooney is convinced that United’s decision to axe Van Gaal less than 24 hours after winning the FA Cup in May 2016 was a massive blunder.
Rooney said: “I was devastated when Louis was sacked.
“For me, it was an absolute joy to work with him.
“We should have kept him for a third season. We would have been so much stronger.
“I felt things were improving and players started to understand his vision. In those two years I learned more than under any other
“This is why I will be forever grateful to him. Not just for making me captain, but also for all the trust and belief he had in me.
“We didn’t have the best team in the league anyway, but we could not afford to have 12 players injured.
“Our best XI was good enough to play in the top four, but once we got injuries we got in trouble because we did not have the same quality in the squad as in the years before.
“At the time it was good for me because I had decided that I wanted to become a
“And working with Louis in that way was priceless in my opinion, because I could learn so much from him. I could not have wished for a better example.”
Both Rooney and Van Gaal have given candid accounts of the time they spent working together at Old Trafford in the book ‘LVG – The Manager and the Total Person’ , which has just been published in Holland.
Rooney, 34, is now player-coach of Derby as he builds towards his ambition of following Van Gaal into full management.
Van Gaal reveals how he made the England striker his captain when he arrived in Manchester in the summer of 2014 in a bid to
improve Rooney’s behaviour off the pitch at the time.
Van Gaal now admits the ploy didn’t work – although he did manage to laugh when a video was posted on social media of his skipper being knocked out during a drunken kitchen sparring session with his former team-mate Phil Bardsley.
Van Gaal recalled: “I could not fault Rooney’s professional attitude on the field for one second. But the way he lived his life off it was a totally different story.
“So I made Wayne captain to try and get more control of him away from football. Unfortunately, we did not quite succeed.”
Rooney knew Van Gaal’s motives for handing him the responsibility of leading the team.
And he was shocked by the Dutchman’s response to seeing Bardsley land a knockout blow.
Rooney said: “Look, sometimes I want to get away from football. If we have a few days off, I like to go to a mate’s house and we drink and we put boxing gloves on.
“Though when that clip went viral I thought, ‘Jesus, I’d better tell the manager’.
“But when I walked into the manager’s office as soon as he saw me, he burst out laughing. It was totally not a problem for him. The media made it much bigger, but Louis just laughed.”
Rooney added: “After pre-season, where he had tried a couple of players as captain, Louis phoned me up.
“He had chosen me as his new captain.
“I really wanted the captaincy at the time anyway, as I had been with the club for so long, so it was absolutely great.
“Louis said to me that on the pitch I was a top-class professional, but he wanted me to be that same off the pitch.
“I could see why. I had been up to a few things in the past off the pitch.
“I did not find it difficult to behave in a responsible way at the club, but away from the club it was different.
“Then I suddenly had a lot on my plate as a captain. There were all different roles and I had to keep a certain image as captain towards my fellow team-mates.”