Gary Neville has expressed concern at Louis van Gaal's propensity to fall out with senior players at Manchester United.
Writing in his column for The Telegraph, the former Manchester United captain name-checked Angel Di Maria, Victor Valdes, Radamel Falcao, Marcos Rojo and Robin van Persie as exampled of those whose relations with the Manchester United manager had soured. Neville also said there were "others".
"I have real concerns that Louis van Gaal has fallen out with numerous players over the last year. Some of those players he actually brought in himself. Angel di Maria and Victor Valdes would be examples," he wrote. "Di Maria, Valdes, Falcao, Rojo, Van Persie – and there are others. That’s too many players to get on the wrong side of. These are not bad lads. So I’m slightly concerned that there is this iron fist being applied to players who I look at from personal experience and think: they’re quite good people. I know some of those lads, and they are what I would classify as really good professionals."
Manchester United vs Liverpool combined XI
Manchester United vs Liverpool combined XI
1/10 GK: David De Gea
He hasn't even played this season, but De Gea goes straight into our side ahead of United team-mate Sergio Romero and Liverpool's Simon Mignolet. With the transfer window closed and his proposed move to Real Madrid over for now, Van Gaal is expected to bring the Spain international back into the fold and there's no question he's the best goalkeeper of the lot.
2/10 RB: Matteo Darmian
Arguably the toughest dilemma of the lot comes at right-back, with Darmian and Nathaniel Clyne both impressing so far this term. The nod goes to the United defender by a whisker based on how quickly the Italian has managed to resolve what has been a problem position for United for some time.
3/10 CB: Chris Smalling
For all the speculation over Manchester United signing a centre-back during the summer, Smalling has shown that the need for reinforcements isn't as great as some feared. The England international has been consistent and appears to be growing in confidence all the time. It means there's no place for Dejan Lovren, who in contrast appears to be regressing from the player Liverpool spent £20m to sign.
4/10 CB: Martin Skrtel
Thankfully for Liverpool, Skrtel has looked good this term, and beats Daley Blind to the other centre-back berth. United's Dutch midfielder/defender/full-back is still new to the central position.
5/10 LB: Luke Shaw
Joe Gomez has made an unexpectedly impressive start to his Anfield career, with the 18-year-old playing in every game since joining from Charlton. But Shaw has begun to show why Manchester United were willing to take such a huge gamble on a teenager, being solid defensively and a threat going forward.
6/10 M: Bastian Schweinsteiger
The World Cup winner is beginning to show why, despite concerns over his fitness, he's been among the best midfielders in Europe over recent years. With Michael Carrick injured, he'll be wanting to impress during a potential run in the starting line-up. He beats Adam Lallana to a place, with the Liverpool midfielder also only starting two games so far this term.
7/10 M: Morgan Schneiderlin
The former Southampton player has impressed in the centre of the park with his passing and ability to disrupt the opposition. James Milner, one of only two Liverpool midfielders to start every match this term is yet to set the world alight following his free transfer from Manchester City.
8/10 M: Memphis Depay
The young Netherlands international looks to be showing more ability and growing in confidence with each match and his recent European double offered a glimpse of the big future the summer signing could have at Old Trafford. It means there is no place for Roberto Firmino, one of Liverpool's big summer signings.
9/10 ST: Wayne Rooney
Rooney is still to score in four Premier League games, but his two-in-two for England and hat-trick in Europe indicates the striker is hitting form. However, he only makes it into the side because Coutinho, who has been Liverpool's best player so far this season, is suspended for Saturday's game.
10/10 ST: Christian Benteke
Joining Rooney in attack is Benteke. With just the one goal to his name the former Aston Villa player hasn't exactly been prolific, but he has been causing opposing defences a headache, particularly in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal. With Daniel Sturridge still out, Benteke will hope to begin writing himself into Anfield folklore with a goal at Old Trafford.
Neville's comments come at a time of reports of a mutiny at Old Trafford over his style, with his treatment of former right-back Rafael understood to have irked some players.
Ahead of Saturday's match against Liverpool, Van Gaal admitted that Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney had come to speak to him earlier in the season. He said they were concerned the dressing room was "flat".
"So, Rooney and Carrick the captain came to me and said the dressing room is flat," said the Dutchman. "We want to say that to you because we want to help you. I communicate not only with my captains. I talk to the dressing room and communicate with my players. We have discussed a lot of aspects. What [aspects we subsequently] I cannot tell here - but they are not the aspects that some have written."
He added that he had a "superb relationship with my players".
Neville compared Van Gaal's style with that of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, offering it up as a potential explanation for the high level of fall-outs since the former Netherlands manager took charge.
"There seems to be an element of the iron fist with Van Gaal. For 25 years people talked of Sir Alex’s ‘hairdryer’ but Sir Alex had compassion, while Van Gaal tends to be colder in his dealings with players. It hardly bodes well when players are brought through the door by a manager who then discards or marginalises them."
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