Van Gaal leaves Manchester United

The worst-kept secret in football is finally out with Manchester United confirming that manager Louis van Gaal “is to leave with immediate effect”.

The Dutchman inadvertently told the press after the Red Devils’ FA Cup win over Crystal Palace on Saturday that “it is over” and the British press reported a day later that Van Gaal and his backroom staff had been sacked.

Initial reports suggested that Manchester United would make an announcement at 1pm British Summer Time on Monday, but the announcement never came and they left it until well after 8pm to confirm the 64-year-old’s departure.

Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement on the website: “I would like to thank Louis and his staff for their excellent work in the past two years culminating in winning a record-equaling 12th FA Cup for the club (and securing him a title in four different countries).

“He has behaved with great professionalism and dignity throughout his time here. He leaves us with a legacy of having given several young players the confidence to show their ability on the highest stage. Everyone at the club wishes him all the best in the future.”

Speculation is rife that Manchester United will appoint Jose Mourinho as his replacement and the statement added that “a decision on a successor as manager will be announced soon”.