Remember that moment late in Manchester United’s 1-1 tie with Arsenal in May when David de Gea was injured and Víctor Valdés came on? And everyone was all like, hey, I remember him! Didn’t he win the Champions League and La Liga with Barcelona a bunch of times? What’s he been up to?
Well, cherish the memory of the goalkeeper in a United jersey, because the extremely rare event won’t be happening again. See, he crossed Louis van Gaal, and now he gots to get got.
For a start, the United manager left him out of the club’s preseason tour of the United States, which begins with a game against Club América in Seattle on Friday. No visiting the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market this week for you, my friend. No Space Needle for Víctor.
But why, Louis? “He is not selected because he does not follow my philosophy,” the Dutchman told reporters. This philosophy can of course be summarized as “always do what I say.” But Van Gaal elaborated:
“There is not one place for one player – the philosophy is how you play football and how you maintain your match rhythm. For example, he refused last year to play in our second team. That is one aspect of our philosophy but there are a lot of others for how you play like a goalkeeper for Manchester United. When you are not willing to follow the principles of the philosophy there is only one way and that is out.”
Wait … Valdes refused to play for the reserves? Hell, if nothing else, you’d think he’d want some match action out of sheer boredom, or to remember what it felt like to step onto a soccer field.
Valdes, though, disagrees. On Twitter he posted several images of reserve-team games he’d played in, and wrote “…..? #respect.”
That’s right, this dispute’s got a hashtag now. Shit just got real.
But considering the probability that a goalkeeper who’s still only 33 and has won basically everything would prefer to be actually playing soccer, rather than sitting and watching, Valdés probably doesn’t care. Maybe he can go and join Leicester, or Stoke, and have a similarly weird downward trajectory to former Inter Milan and Brazil goalkeeper turned Queens Park Rangers reserve and Toronto FC transient, Julio Cesar. Surely Major Legaue Soccer can invent a new rule to get Valdés signed for the LA Galaxy.
Asked by a reporter why he played Valdés in the final game of the season against Hull City, Van Gaal said it was a final act of generosity before termination. Like when Joe Pesci thinks he’s about to get made in Goodfellas.
“I want to help him so that he can show his qualities for another club. I am always a very social human being,” Van Gaal said, weirdly.
The head coach was notably more reticent and delicate about why he whacked Robin van Persie (i.e., sold him to Fenerbahçe). “After we played golf we talked about the perspective for him at Manchester United,” he said. Which is a nice management-speak euphemism, isn’t it?
Hey, Víctor, got a minute? Why don’t we have a talk about the perspective?