United sack Van Gaal – Man Utd shares dip in choppy Frankfurt trading

Louis van Ga
Louis van Ga

LONDON: Louis van Gaal has been sacked as manager of Manchester United, several British media outlets reported yesterday, amid speculation he will be replaced by Jose Mourinho. Both Van Gaal and leading employment lawyer Paul Gilroy were seen entering United’s Carrington training ground yesterday. Gilroy’s clients have included David Moyes, whose sacking as United manager paved the way for Van Gaal’s appointment. There has a yet been no official confirmation from United, 20-times English champions, about the position of Van Gaal, who still has a season remaining on his three-year contract.

But James Ducker, the northern football correspondent of Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, tweeted yesterday: “Paul Gilroy QC finalizing Van Gaal’s severance package now…£5m pay off. Expect an announcement lunchtime.” The BBC said that United would make a statement about Van Gaal at 1:00pm local time yesterday. British media have been awash with reports of Van Gaal’s demise, after a leak from an unknown source spread as Manchester United lifted the FA Cup on Saturday. The Dutchman cryptically commented, “It’s over” as he left the squad’s Cup final hotel on Sunday, but it was not clear whether he was referring to his tenure or United’s season.

The BBC said Van Gaal had not been informed whether he was staying for next season, although it said Saturday’s 2-1 win over Palace at Wembley was believed to have been his last game in charge of United. Van Gaal himself was defiant after Saturday’s Cup final. “I show you the cup and I don’t discuss it with my friends of the media, who already sacked me for six months,” the 64-year-old said. “Which manager can do that, what I have done?”

Despite winning their first trophy since the great Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, Van Gaal’s United didn’t challenge for the Premier League title and failed to qualify for the Champions League. Fans were also unhappy with the brand of football their team played under Van Gaal. United scored just 49 league goals this season, their lowest return for 26 years and many supporters felt Van Gaal’s approach ran counter to the club’s traditional attacking style. Mourinho saw his second spell as Chelsea manager end with the sack in December, after last season’s champions made a miserable start to the their Premier League title defense.

United captain Wayne Rooney accepted this term’s performance had not been good enough by the standards expected at Old Trafford. “He has been under pressure,” Rooney said of Van Gaal. “I think we all have. “That’s part of playing for Manchester United and managing Manchester United-it is a massive club. “You have to set standards and we fell below them this season. “But we have to make sure as players we get back to those standards and make sure we are back challenging for the main trophies.” Meanwhile former United midfielder Ray Wilkins said Mourinho was the man to revitalize the club. “He (Mourinho) is a winner-there is no two ways about it,” Wilkins, also a former Chelsea assistant manager, told talkSPORT radio yesterday. “When he goes to a club, normally he wins a big trophy within the first couple of years.”

Man U shares dip
Meanwhile, shares in English soccer giant Manchester United slipped in volatile trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange yesterday, following media reports the club was set to replace its manager with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. Manchester United’s main stock market listing is in New York, although it has a secondary, and less widely traded, share listing in Frankfurt. The Premier League club’s Frankfurt-listed shares briefly opened up 2.4 percent, but then slipped back to stand 2.5 percent lower. Manchester United’s shares closed up 2.4 percent in New York on Friday. British media reported that Mourinho, 53, would take over at Manchester United even though Dutchman Louis van Gaal, who steered United to an extra-time FA Cup final win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, had a year left on his contract.

Mourinho, sacked by Chelsea in December after his second spell in charge of the west London club, has also managed Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, winning Europe’s premier Champions League tournament with both Porto and Inter Milan. Manchester United was bought in 2005 for about 800 million pounds ($1.3 billion) by the Glazer family, owners the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise in the National Football League. Shares in Manchester United were listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012 in an initial public offering.

According to Thomson Reuters data, the Glazers’ Red Football LLC investment vehicle has a 20 percent stake in the club’s New York-listed shares. US investment firm Baron Capital Management, Lansdowne Partners, Jupiter Asset Management and Fidelity are among other major institutional investors. The New York-listed shares have fallen by around 6 percent so far in 2016. Earlier in May, Manchester United reported record third-quarter revenues and higher earnings. However, van Gaal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League is likely to have proved costly. Manchester United said earlier this month that not getting into the Champions League would cost it more than 30 million pounds ($43.5 million) in revenue next season.- Agencies

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