On a day when his Manchester United team provided the sort of entertainment that the fans at Old Trafford had been crying out for all season, manager Louis van Gaal offered his own unique form of amusement on the sideline. Usually fixed near emotionless to his dugout seat while etching endless notes in his pad, the veteran Dutch coach supplied one of the enduring moments of the Premier League campaign during his team’s thrilling 3-2 win over Arsenal.
Rising from his seat to remonstrate with the fourth official after what he viewed as a dive from Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, Van Gaal took extreme measures to prove his point, flopping to the ground in front of the bemused Mike Dean. Van Gaal said in a post-match interview that he had apologized to Dean for his reaction, but insisted he didn’t regret it.
Certainly the supporters inside Old Trafford appeared to lap it up. Immediately a chant of “Louis van Gaal’s barmy army” rang around the 75,000-capacity stadium. Given that he has been the subject of loud jeers and frequent questions about his future all season, this will have been a welcome development for the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach.
It was a day on which the fans and Van Gaal had much to celebrate. Two goals from 18-year-old Marcus Rashford helped United to perhaps the finest victory of the season, despite missing a huge number of players due to injury. With his job appearing to be teetering on the brink just a week ago, Van Gaal has now overseen three straight victories.