Ander Herrera was not surprised to see Louis van Gaal depart Manchester United but said he was grateful to the Dutchman for signing him.
Herrera has played over 70 games for United since signing ahead of Van Gaal’s first season, but will now have to impress new manager Jose Mourinho, who was confirmed as the club’s new boss after the Dutchman was sacked following United’s FA Cup win over Crystal Palace.
The Spaniard admitted the players were fully aware of the speculation surrounding Van Gaal in his final months, as the club completed a difficult campaign in which they finished fifth.
“It wasn’t a comfortable time, but we are professionals, and so we didn’t allow it to distract us,” Herrera told Marca.
“I must say that the coach remained strong throughout.
“He never showed signs of surrender and, in the end, we won the FA Cup.
“Van Gaal is an honest guy and has always put Manchester United above all else.”
When the axe fell on the Dutchman, Herrera said few were surprised.
“Nothing surprises you in football today,” he continued.
“United have to fight for every title and, when they lose that fight, this is one of the outcomes.
“In many ways I think he has done a good job.
“I’m grateful to him because he signed me and so gave me the opportunity to play more than 70 games, in two years, at arguably the world’s largest club.”
But while the midfielder was happy to have worked under Van Gaal, he was looking forward to the challenge of impressing Mourinho as he adds to his impressive list of coaches.
“I’ve had great coaches: Marcelino, with whom I made my debut; [Javier] Aguirre, [Marcelo] Bielsa [and Ernesto] Valverde; who taught me how to handle the locker room and is a fantastic guy,” Herrera said.
“Then came Van Gaal and ‘Mou’ now, who is the most successful coach, alongside Pep Guardiola.
“He has won the league in four countries, the Champions League with Inter and Porto and led Chelsea to become champions twice.
“So for me this is a unique opportunity that will push me the maximum.”