It was the next morning Manchester United won the 2016 FA Cup and, not for the first time, Louis van Gaal was about to deliver a speech at a team meal.
At least one person settling in for breakfast at the Corinthia Hotel near Embankment had little confidence that the start of 10am would see full participation from players and staff, as the party had gone on. until dawn and rumors were circulating that Jose Mourinho had already accepted a business to be taken over.
“People had been having fun the night before and I remember thinking, ‘Not everyone will show up,'” a source said. “But not a single person failed to show up.”
Whether it was because Van Gaal’s doctrine of regimented meal times had become a habit over the previous two years, or whether it was because everyone thought this Headmaster – whatever his faults – deserved. respect at the end of his reign, no one can say for sure. But what became evident was the passion Van Gaal still had for his job and the bonds he had forged with a number of people at the club.
“He made the most moving speech, there were a few tears in his eyes,” the source continues. “He said, ‘I read the papers, I don’t know if I’m going to be here, but I have to keep working like I am.’ “
Van Gaal then handed out all of the players’ schedules, detailing the dates they were due to return, which helped give some of the recipients the impression that the Dutchman actually believed he would stay until the 2016 season- 17.
“As could be the case with Louis, it was a strange atmosphere,” someone else said in the room.