Louis van Gaal's eccentric behaviour and negative tactics as Manchester United manager has left the playing squad on the verge of mutiny, according to reports.
Van Gaal led United to FA Cup success following Saturday's victory over Crystal Palace but is set to be replaced by Jose Mourinho this week, after the club's failure to qualify for next season's Champions League.
Ahead of his departure, stories illustrating the depth of the discord between the Dutchman in his squad have emerged. The Independent report his heavy handed approach was immediately felt during the club's pre-season campaign in 2014 – the manager's first summer in charge at the club. Van Gaal was angered by the arrangements for the club's tour of the United States, made by his predecessor David Moyes, and made sweeping changes. His new regime left the squad "shattered and ill-prepared for the start of the new 2014-15 season", which would go onto be United's worst start to a season in 25 years.
Van Gaal would also routinely "crucify" his players in front of each other in team meetings, something that prompted captain Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick – the club's two most senior players – to approach the manager and advise him to take a softer approach.
Van Gaal took the advice on board and rather than directly confronting players, would instead send lengthy emails with notes and video clips attached. Fearing the emails would contain nothing more than a list of criticisms, however, many players avoided opening the emails altogether, prompting van Gaal to use tracking technology to monitor when and for how long his emails were opened.
To battle that, the report claims players would then simply open the emails on their mobile phones, but not read their content.
Van Gaal's on-field instructions also served to add further strain on his relationship with his players. The Guardian note players had been instructed not to take on first-time shots coming into the penalty area, but to instead take a touch first. The United squad felt such an instruction inhibited their play, and, over time, began to ignore the order, feeling they were no longer allowed to think for themselves.
Van Gaal has also been accused of allowing Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger preferential treatment. The 31-year-old signed for the club from Bayern Munich during the summer transfer window but has started just 13 league games this season, with injuries sidelining him for most of 2016.
The World Cup-winning midfielder has failed to live up to up to last summers' expectation and was allowed to frequently return home to Germany during his spells on the sidelines, flying in and out for matches, something that irked his teammates.