Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal admits he was shocked to learn that Jose Mourinho had been sacked as manager of Chelsea.
The former Inter boss left the Premier League champions by mutual consent on Thursday, with technical director Michael Emenalo citing “a palpable discord” between Mourinho and his players as one of the main reasons for his departure.
Van Gaal, under whom Mourinho worked at Barcelona, has hailed the Portuguese’s record as a coach and says he did not expect to see him leave, despite Chelsea’s dismal first half of the season.
“It’s a big surprise for me, I didn’t expect it,” he said. “A fantastic manager with a record that nobody has in this football world. But it is still possible, and what I have said in my own press conference is that the main thing is always of course the results first and then the chemistry between the players, the manager and his staff.
“I cannot judge what is happening at Chelsea but I was surprised. It’s like that. We know that, Jose knows that. It’s this world.”
Talk of disharmony between Van Gaal and some of his United players has surfaced during recent weeks, with the 20-time English champions having failed to win any of their last five matches.
Mourinho has even been linked with a possible move to replace Van Gaal at Old Trafford and, while the former Netherlands boss insists the United atmosphere is strong, he accepts he will need to improve results quickly.
“It’s fine, but I’ve said that already more than once. I’ve seen articles that it’s not like that, so it’s a bit crazy,” he said when asked about the dressing-room morale.
“I have the full confidence of my board and my players, I feel that. But we have to get results. We have to win, we know that, the players know that, I know that. So there’s not any doubt. When you lose too much, also for me, it’s the end of the world.”
United face Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday.