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Rafael da Silva has blasted Louis van Gaal's spell at Manchester United, claiming that the Dutchman was arrogant, boring and did not like Brazilian players.
The right-back had a seven-year spell at Old Trafford and won three Premier League titles under Sir Alex Ferguson, but spent one unhappy season under Van Gaal before being sold to Lyon in 2015.
"When they said Van Gaal was the manager, a lot of friends called me. I could not believe it, as a lot of people told me he does not like Brazilians (because of their style of play). They told me, 'The first thing he is going to do is take you out,'" the 30-year-old told Adam Crafton of The Athletic in an extensive interview.
"Actually, it was the second thing because on the first day, he did not speak to me. On the second day, he said, 'You can leave.' I had not even trained and he said that. I could not believe it... He did not explain why.
"He said, 'You will not play this season, I am not going to use you, if you want to leave, you leave.' I said, 'OK.' I still tried to battle for my place. I stayed one year with him. It was so, so hard. He is one of the worst people I have worked with."
Rafael, who signed for Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir this summer, also explains that Ferguson was judicious with his man management, only talking at length with players he knew would respond and leaving others to their own devices. Yet Van Gaal would preach at his squad every day.
"Every day, after breakfast, after lunch, or if we had dinner together, he would speak to everyone for 15 minutes... You know when you start to stop listening to what someone is saying, because they speak so much? He wanted to show he could speak. But it was every day! All the time! You need to wait for everybody to finish their food to leave, which is fine, OK.
"But then we watched him talk, for 15 minutes, with all due respect, about shit. That is the truth, man. It was shit."
While some may claim Rafael is just bitter towards a manager who didn't want him, there's no denying that Van Gaal is a man who enjoys the sound of his own voice. Although as he reportedly once dropped his trousers in front of the Bayern Munich dressing room, perhaps Rafael should be grateful that tedious monologues was all the Brazilian was exposed to.
Surprisingly, Rafael is reasonably kind towards Van Gaal's style of football which he calls "not the worst". He also defends David Moyes who has the thankless task of trying to replace Ferguson, before Van Gaal's arrival a year later.
"Moyes was not like Van Gaal, not even a bit," he said. "I mean here as a human being. The problem was that everybody thought Moyes would be nearly the same coach as Ferguson but they were different people, outside the pitch and inside the pitch."
Naturally, Rafael has warm memories of Sir Alex, who was always full of praise for both the full-back and his twin brother, Fabio, as they emerged as teenagers into the United first team. He admits that "I was never the same" after Ferguson's retirement and it's true that he hasn't quite gone on to have the professional career he looked destined for when he was capped for Brazil at the age of 22.
Yet Rafael also mounts a strong defence of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, despite the fact the two missed out on being teammates at Old Trafford by one season. "Now it (the reaction) is all, 'Everything is shit, we need to change the coach'," he tells The Athletic regarding the fallout from United's opening-day defeat to Crystal Palace.
"It is all a bit harsh. It is the first game - relax. Of course we need to get better. People don't care if the players only had one pre-season game to prepare. They just say, 'OLE OUT, F**KING HELL, WHY DON'T YOU BUY PLAYERS?' That's what I don't understand.
"Of course we need some players but last season, we finished winning nearly every game. The team was growing together. Now, you listen to people and it is as though if we don't buy players, we will lose every game."
The reference to "we" clearly shows how strongly Rafael feels about his former club - and he was quick to poke fun at Alexis Sanchez's claim he wanted to leave Man United after his first training session at the club.
It's also a robust vote of confidence for Solskjaer from a former United player. Though perhaps Rafael is just delighted that someone, anyone, who isn't Van Gaal is currently in charge at Old Trafford.
All imagery: PA Images
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