The Frenchman says he felt “restricted” working under the Dutch head coach at Old Trafford which adversely affected his confidence
Morgan Schneiderlin has blamed “strict” Louis van Gaal for his failed spell at Manchester United, while revealing his former manager used to dictate the squad’s meal times.
Schneiderlin completed a £25 million ($32m) move to Old Trafford from Southampton in the summer of 2015, having established himself as one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League at St Mary’s.
The Frenchman was ultimately unable to build on that reputation United, taking in just 47 appearances in all competitions before being sold to Everton in January 2017.
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A total of 38 of those outings came during his first season at the club under Van Gaal, who was replaced by Jose Mourinho following the Red Devils’ run to FA Cup glory.
Schneiderlin was left on the bench during a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley, having failed to convince in midfield as United slumped to a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Premier League.
Mourinho was the man who eventually deemed the 30-year-old surplus to requirements in Manchester, but the midfielder insists Van Gaal had a far more detrimental impact on his career.
Schneiderlin told The Athletic of his initial decision to join United: “A couple of other teams called my agent, but when Man Utd were interested there was no other choice. Man Utd and Real Madrid are the two biggest clubs in the world.
“You can’t refuse Man Utd but if I was to listen to my heart, I would have signed for Spurs. I knew the manager and what he would want from me, his training style.
“He called me to ask me to go to Spurs. He wanted me 100 per cent. He [Van Gaal] wanted me too but we had less connection on the phone.
“So I signed more for the football club, Manchester United, than the manager.”
The former Everton star, who now plies his trade in Ligue 1 with Nice, added on Van Gaal’s rigid approach to management and his struggles for confidence at Old Trafford: “[He had] a style which was too strict.
“We were told: ‘When you have the ball you have to do this’ instead of playing with my gut like I had done with Pochettino and Koeman.
“The worst thing for a football player is when you think too much. I started to think: ‘Ah, the manager wants me to do this’. You lose your instinct, you start to force things, you miss passes, you arrive too late for a challenge. Your confidence goes down.
“I would play a very good game and then a very bad game. I wasn’t confident enough. I started to complain to my wife. It hurts me even now that I couldn’t play freely at United.
“The pressure of the club was no problem to me. I like pressure, I need pressure and adrenaline. The fans were good to me in the street.
“The problem was me because I knew I had so much to give but I couldn’t give it because I felt restricted. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so upset, but at the time that’s how it was.
“You had to wait until the manager told you that you could eat. These things work when the players are 19 and 20, but not when you have older players.
“Van Gaal had proved that he was a top manager, but I don’t think we needed those ideas at the time.”