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How Di Maria Failed With “Worst Coach Of His Career”

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Angel Di Maria appeared to shout ‘f*** off’ to a section of home supporters at Old Trafford after Presnel Kimpembe scored Paris Saint-Germain’s opener against Manchester United in the first knockout round of the Champions League in February 2019.

Di Maria was booed with every touch of the ball that night, as he returned for the first time since he departed from the club in 2015. He received a hostile reception and was targeted by a bottle in the second half

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There seemed to be no love lost between Di Maria and United supporters, but the player insisted after the game that it was Louis van Gaal who was his problem during his only season in Manchester, not the fans, despite appearing to shout ‘f*** off’ at the crowd.

“It was difficult from the opening minute but I knew this was going to happen,” Di Maria told Cadena Cope radio when asked about the atmosphere.

“But I’ve said it in the past and I reiterate it, I never spoke badly of the people here and of this club.

“These are things that happen and people took it badly. I only had problems with the coach [Louis van Gaal] here.”

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Di Maria had played for Benfica and Real Madrid before his move to Old Trafford and he’d won seven major trophies during those two spells spanning seven years, which included a Champions League triumph in his last season at the Bernabeu.

The winger contributed 51 goals and 113 assists in 311 games for Benfica and Madrid and it seemed like a genuine coup when Van Gaal signed him for a British record transfer fee of £59.7million in the summer of 2014, his first in charge at United.

Van Gaal described Di Maria as ‘world-class’ and the player said United were ‘the only club that I would have left Real Madrid for’.

 

 

 

 

 

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It seemed like an excellent move for all parties, but Di Maria struggled to settle, he considered Van Gaal the ‘worst coach of his career’, he argued with Wayne Rooney and scored just four goals in his only season at the club, which was an unbridled disaster.

Di Maria is now regarded by most as the worst signing in the club’s history, but he enjoyed a stunning renaissance at PSG shortly after leaving United, which suggested his 2014/15 season was a genuine blip in an otherwise impressive, trophy-laden career.

Di Maria told Le Parisien after his exit. “Life in England was difficult and it isn’t easy for a South American. Some people adapt, but for others, it is harder. I didn’t get on very well with the coach. So I believe the decision to join Paris was the best solution.”

 

 

 

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Di Maria then claimed he’d never wanted to leave Madrid for United, just a few weeks after his first comments – there would be many more to come – about his time in Manchester.

“My intention was always to stay at Real Madrid,” he told Marca.

“I do not know much about what happened as these are more things for representatives. These things happen in football. I left Madrid, but I had the most beautiful last ovation from the Bernabeu.”

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Di Maria made his United debut against Burnley at Turf Moor, an appropriate fixture for a sobering welcome to the Premier League, but made a positive start to life in England, scoring three goals and recording four assists in his first six appearances.

Although that haul included a world-class lob against Leicester and the early signs were promising, the wheels soon spectacularly fell off and his relationship with Van Gaal began to deteriorate past the point of saving.

Di Maria excelled in attacking midfield and on the right wing in his final season with Madrid in Carlo Ancelotti’s 4-3-3 system, but Van Gaal could not decide what position he was best suited to in his preferred midfield diamond, which lacked width.

Van Gaal played Di Maria in six different roles that season and the player was unable to express himself, which he previously had the licence to do with Madrid. Di Maria was struggling to make an impact on games and he appeared too lightweight.

The player that was outstanding for Madrid had failed to arrive in Manchester and Di Maria’s growing desire to leave the club after just a few months was exacerbated when his Cheshire home was targeted by burglars at the start of February 2015.

 

 

Rooney felt the burglary was the beginning of the end for Di Maria, as he explained to The Times in 2020. “He could have been a major star at United but at the time we were going through a bit of a transition and it was tough for him to settle,” Rooney said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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