Louis Van Gaal's stultifying time at Man United has largely been put down to the Dutchman's obsessive level of control, be it in his manic insistence on playing the ball sideways rather than shooting from the edge of the box. In the end, not even the FA Cup triumph could offset the dark memories of the fetid, lifeless carcass United had become in the Premier League.
Press reports to twist the knife in his back following his sacking claimed that the United players were sick of Van Gaal's dictatorial reign by the end: the manager sent his players emails with clips and advice to improve on their performance week-by-week.
The exact level of control exerted by Van Gaal, however, may have been overstated, judging by comments today by his former assistant Albert Stuivenberg. Stuivenberg currently has a managerial gig of his own: with Genk in Belgium, and attributes his rise to the opportunities afforded by working with Van Gaal.
Van Gaal delegated quite a lot of responsibility, claims, Stuivenberg, to the extent that the latter essentially ran the show. He was quoted in the Independent as saying so much:
He gave me his complete trust.
At United, I was doing the training sessions for the selected first team before games. I was fully in charge.
I was doing all the pre-match team talks, and I did the post-match talk with the team and individual players.
Stuivenberg may yet come face-to-face with the club he seems to have run: Genk and United may yet meet in the Europa League. First of all, however, United will have to overcome the challenge of FC Rostov tomorrow night, a challenge exacerbated by the holy show of their pitch.