6.30am: Louis van Gaal wakes up at the same time as usual. It gives him plenty of time to have breakfast, get dressed and prepare for the day ahead. He has plenty to do. He needs to watch the videos from the defeat against Norwich City with the team’s video analyst. He needs to arrange meetings with some senior players to discuss how to turn the team around after the alarming slide down the table. He also needs to finalise the list of transfer targets for the January window. There is much to be done. He takes his phone, and sets the alarm to snooze, and then reconsiders. He sets the alarm to 8am.
8.15am: After hitting ‘snooze’ three times, he ambles downstairs to his kitchen and prepares breakfast. Usually he’d have something quick, or eat at Carrington, but this time he decides that he’ll take advantage of his house’s fancy oven and hob. Sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs, followed up by a couple of pastries. He decides not to hurry and drink coffee from a pod machine, but takes his time with the cafetiere. He is in no mood to rush.
Louis van Gaal
Image credit: AFP
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10.20am: He arrives at Carrington a good couple of hours later than most people had expected. He sends a couple of emails from his office. The first, to his analyst, apologises for missing the early-morning meeting they usually took each week, and suggests that it take place on Thursday afternoon. He also sends notes to Michael Carrick, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Wayne Rooney, telling them that he could meet them on Friday morning, about 11.30, once training was done. None of them replies, and he's glad of the excuse to let it drift.
10.30am: With the last of the players arriving for training, he tells them that his assistant will take the routines today, and he strolls back to his office for a couple of cups of coffee and a read of the Dutch newspapers. He has a cursory attempt at a quick crossword, and a cryptic one, and he finishes the hard sudoku after an hour of study.
12.30pm: Texting his coach as he notes the time, he tells them that it is enough training for the day, and they can all go home, or do extra training if they want. One coach replies back asking if they can discuss strategy next week, which Van Gaal lets go unanswered.
12.45pm: A call comes through on his mobile from Ed Woodward. He lets it go to voicemail.
Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is delighted with the club's first-quarterly figures
Image credit: PA Sport
12.46pm: He does the same on the office phone, and sees a couple of emails ping in his inbox from Woodward’s secretary, asking for a meeting. Woodward gives it a couple more tries on the phone, both of which go unanswered as Van Gaal has left his office to go to the office’s stationery cupboard.
12.47pm: Van Gaal throws a few packets of printer paper, thousands of paper clips, some pens and a not insignificant number of printer cartridges into three cardboard boxes. He asks for help from a couple of office workers to take them back to his room, and asks for someone to come by to stick them into this boot in an hour or so, handing over his car keys.
1.05pm: Van Gaal decides to get a taxi to Wings for lunch, and decides now is the time for one last decent meal. He lets the chef know that he fancies something special and he’s prepared to pay for it. The chef asks if he needs to be back in the office for a certain time, as he can do him a lunch meal. Van Gaal says as long as he can get back for about half four, it shouldn’t be much of a problem for him. He looks at his buzzing mobile phone, that has alternately rung and beeped for the best part of half an hour, and turns it to silent. He thinks again, and orders two glasses of sparkling water. He takes a sip from one, and places his phone in the other, and watches the screen switch off without a crackle.
5.20pm: Van Gaal notes the meal overruns, but it is in no hurry to get back to the office. He drives leisurely back to Carrington, and walks into his office with confidence, realising Woodward is down in the Mayfair office today. He picks up a couple more bits and pieces from the office supplies, grabs his laptop, and looks at the PC screen. A couple, well, 20, emails from Woodward. He decides it’s probably wisest not to look at them just now, given he’s finally in a good mood, and sends an email of his own. “What about a meeting in a couple of weeks? Just to hammer out our plans for next year. Cheers, Louis.”
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