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Former Man Utd defender Tom Thorpe says his debut was 'completely tainted' by Louis van Gaal

Former Man Utd defender Tom Thorpe says his debut was 'completely tainted' by Louis van Gaal

A former Man Utd defender has hit out at Louis van Gaal.

Former Manchester United defender Tom Thorpe has said that his senior debut was 'completely tainted' by manager Louis van Gaal.

Thorpe was one of several United academy products to be given an opportunity under Van Gaal in his first season, with Tyler Blackett, Paddy McNair and Marnick Vermijl all making their debuts.

Those three players have differing paths. While they have all played Championship football - Blackett with Reading, McNair with Sunderland and Middlesbrough and Vermijl with Preston North End - only McNair has been a constant presence within English football.

Blackett spent time at Celtic and MLS side FC Cincinatti, before joining Rotherham in January.

Vermijl, meanwhile, moved to Dutch side MVV after his departure from PNE, and now plays for Belgian third tier side Thes.

But Thorpe, who came on as a late substitute during a match against West Ham, left football altogether in 2018 after two years with Rotherham and a year at now-defunct Indian Super League side ATK.

The 30-year-old, who represented England at every youth level, is now back in football at Macclesfield, who will play in the NPL Premier Division next season.

And in an interview with the Manchester Evening News, he opened up on his time at United.

Thorpe on Van Gaal, Man Utd

The now 29-year-old was named in the matchday squad to take on West Ham, with Blackett, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans all unavailable.

However, the more inexperienced McNair was selected ahead of him, with Thorpe saying 'it was difficult to understand why I hadn't been selected as the more experienced player'.

He did make his debut as a late substitute against the Hammers, but revealed that one moment 'completely tainted' the day.

Thorpe explained: "It was amazing [to make my debut]. Coming to the changing room afterwards one of the older players came up to me and was surprised. He'd presumed I'd already made my debut.

"Then Van Gaal walked over to me. He patted me on the cheek and said, 'You're welcome'. That completely tainted the whole experience.


"It felt like I hadn't worked hard all these years to deserve the opportunity. It was as though he'd done me a favour - a handout. It was just the most patronising feeling at the time."

He continued: "I think from then on, my mind was made up. I wanted to leave.

"I honestly don't believe I could have done more to put myself in a position to be playing, or at least having more of an opportunity.

"It felt extremely patronising and unwarranted. I thought I don't really want to stand for that. That's not me."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Louis Van Gaal, Premier League