Van Gaal said he was “very disappointed” to be sacked on Monday just 48 hours after leading United to victory in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace.
Missing out on a lucrative Champions League place proved the final straw for the club’s United States-based owners, the Glazer family, and they didn’t let United’s first piece of silverware since the 2013 retirement of legendary boss Alex Ferguson stop them from wielding the axe.
With van Gaal having cleared out his desk at United’s Carrington training ground after talks over a settlement for the final year of his three-year contract, which had been worth a reported £6.4 million per year ($9.2 million, 8.2 million euros), the path is clear for former Chelsea manager Mourinho to be confirmed as the new United boss on Tuesday.
Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea in December after a miserable campaign marred by a series of rifts with the club’s star players that eventually became intolerable to owner Roman Abramovich as the team, champions just months earlier, languished near the relegation zone.
Now the 53-year-old will hope to restore his reputation by restoring the sparkle to United’s own tarnished image.
Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes is said to be arriving in Manchester on Tuesday to tie up a deal that has been widely reported in the British media, setting the stage for one of the sport’s most intriguing characters to at last manage United after a glittering career that so far features 21 major trophies, including three Premier League crowns and two Champions League titles.
Former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel believes Mourinho is the right man to get the club back on track.
“On the top of Mourinho’s list was always Manchester United, now he has the opportunity,” Schmeichel told the BBC.
“Now they have a guy that is supposed to be the biggest manager in the world, the one that really could save Manchester United.
“It has been a brave decision but one that is long overdue.”