For around the last 5 months of Louis van Gaal’s time in charge of Manchester United he had the shadow of Jose Mourinho hanging over him.

Many fans and the media were eager for the Portuguese to finally get the reigns at Old Trafford, even before he was eventually forced out of Chelsea.

Van Gaal had thought of Mourinho as a friend and the nature of how the job loss and job taking came about surely tested that, but even with Manchester United’s current manager under increasing pressure, the Dutchman is resisting any urge to stick the knife in.

Speaking to German newspaper Bild this weekend, Van Gaal was asked about Robert Lewandowski flirting with Real Madrid, and replied: “I think Bayern won’t sell him. A striker like Lewandowski cannot be replaced.

“He is currently the best striker in the world. I also wanted to train Lewandowski and wanted to bring him to Manchester United. The price was not a problem for Manchester United, but Bayern did not want to let him go.”

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Thomas Muller had been the Bayern Munich player most linked with Manchester United during Van Gaal’s reign, but the manager perhaps had other ideas.

Back talking about his time at Old Trafford, Bild asked Van Gaal if it’s true he put trackers on emails he sent to players, so he could see if they’d been opened: “Yes that’s true. I sent emails to the players, in which I pointed out, for example, their strengths and weaknesses. 

“I developed the digital tracker with my IT man. Each player was able to log in. So I gave everyone the opportunity to prepare for the conversation with me at home and to meet me in dialogue at eye level.”

Bild put it to Van Gaal that some Manchester United tricked the system, to make it look like they were reading the emails when in fact they weren’t interested: “That’s true, too. But this testifies to their unprofessionalism and I have then addressed them. But I already did that with the emails at Bayern. My conviction is that a full professional also wants to live professionally. Like Arjen Robben. He read the emails.”