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Man U fires Van Gaal, expected to appoint Mourinho soon

Published:Monday | May 23, 2016 | 5:07 PM
Louis van Gaal was fired by Manchester United today.

MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Louis van Gaal was fired by Manchester United today after months of uncertainty around his position as the team struggled despite more than $350 million spent on new players during his two years in charge.

United is now set to make Jose Mourinho its third manager in the three years since Alex Ferguson's trophy-laden 26-year dynasty ended.

Delivering United's first trophy - an FA Cup victory Saturday - since Ferguson retired in 2013 was not enough to save Van Gaal. The 64-year-old paid the price for failing to qualify England's biggest club for next season's Champions League, with United finishing fifth in the Premier League.

"I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three-year plan," Van Gaal said. "I believe that the foundations are firmly in place to enable the club to move forward and achieve even greater success.

"I hope that winning the FA Cup will give the club a platform to build upon next season to restore the success that this passionate set of fans desire."

PHOTO:  In this Saturday May 21 file photo, Manchester United’s manager Louis van Gaal lifts the trophy after winning the English FA Cup final soccer match against Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium, London. - AP

Van Gaal had a year left on his contract and he could now be heading into retirement. Van Gaal has also coached Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and the Netherlands in a stellar coaching career.

"Having managed in Holland, Spain and Germany, I had always hoped for the opportunity to manage in English football and be part of English culture," Van Gaal said. "Both of these experiences have lived up to expectations and been fantastic."

PHOTO: Manchester United’s manager Louis van Gaal gestures to his players during the English FA Cup final soccer match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium, London on Saturday May 21. - AP

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward praised Van Gaal for behaving with "great professionalism and dignity" in the two years since he replaced David Moyes, Ferguson's immediate successor.

"(Van Gaal) leaves us with a legacy of having given several young players the confidence to show their ability on the highest stage," Woodward said.

But Van Gaal's turbulent tenure has been marred by accusations from critics that he betrayed United's heritage by playing a defensive, risk-averse style. However, he has been praised by many for continuing the club's long-held policy of giving young players a chance, including Jesse Lingard - the scorer of the winning goal in the FA Cup final.