Two things we learnt from Saturday:
First, Manchester United have won their first trophy from 2013.
Second, Manchester United are a disgrace.
The first is pretty self-explanatory. United beat Crystal Palace in a largely low-quality encounter at Wembley on Saturday afternoon; giving them their first trophy since the departure of club legend Sir Alex Ferguson.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) May 22, 2016
The second follows on from the first. Shortly after Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick lifted the FA Cup and confirmed the first trophy of Louis van Gaal’s regime, reports began flooding in from the media: van Gaal will be sacked on Monday and replaced by ex-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
Now if we’re honest with each other, we knew that Mourinho was getting the United job. Van Gaal and his side have been poor this season, and although they have finished with a trophy, the reality is that missing out on Champions League football is a poor return on the investment United have made on players under Van Gaal.
In addition to the poor final league position, the football under Louis van Gaal has been turgid, and Saturday’s cup final was no different.
But with all this said, the way that the United hierarchy handled the announcement of van Gaal’s exit was crass, classless and downright disrespectful.
However poorly the Dutchman may have performed during his reign, the manager had just won the club’s first trophy for three years, after three seasons in the doldrums.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) May 21, 2016
Whatever was going to happen on Monday, the right thing to do would have been to allow the manager the opportunity to bask in the deserved spotlight that comes when you win a trophy.
But United didn’t allow it. BBC (among other media outlets) published the story at pretty much the same time as the trophy lift, which suggests that they were aware of the situation even before the final kicked off.
Which is more than can be said for Van Gaal.
The Dutchman’s press conference post-game made it very clear that he was not aware that he was shortly to lose his job, suggesting that he would like to be at Old Trafford the following season.
When a manager has just brought you success, what crueller way can you think of to relieve him of his duties than informing the media that his contract will be terminated before the man himself?
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 22, 2016
Manchester United have always prided themselves on being a club with real values. They didn’t just throw the chequebook at players. They didn’t sack managers on whims. They had class.
The events of the last three years have shown that myth to be just that: a myth. Not only have they spent the best part of £300 million desperately trying to get back to where they were, they’ve also treated at least one of their managers utterly disgracefully.
Whatever you think of Mourinho, the chances are that he guarantees you success, as well as controversy. But now that United have joined the modern football world and behave abysmally in the way they treat people, they won’t care too much.