Louis van Gaals first Man Utd XI and where they are now from MLS to management

Louis van Gaal took over from David Moyes in the summer of 2014, fresh off the back of taking the Netherlands to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

However, his tenure did not get off to an ideal start when his Manchester United side were beaten 2-1 at Old Trafford on the opening day of the Premier League season.

Goals from Ki Sung Yueng and Gylfi Sigurdsson sealed victory for Swansea City, with Wayne Rooney scoring United's solitary goal.

Despite this loss, United went on to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League, but where is van Gaal's first United line up now?

GK – David de Gea

David de Gea had already been at United for three years and won a Premier League title when van Gaal arrived at Old Trafford.

Having comfortably established himself as the club's first choice keeper under Sir Alex Ferguson, he remained number one under Moyes and then van Gaal.

Seven years on, de Gea remains United's starting keeper, having seen a move to Real Madrid in 2015 collapse due to a dodgy fax machine.

He has made over 450 appearances for the Red Devils and gone on to win three more major trophies including the Europa League.

CB – Tyler Blackett

20-year-old defender Tyler Blackett made his Manchester United debut in van Gaal's first match in charge on the right of a back three.

Blackett went on to have a breakthrough season in 2014/15 and made 12 Premier League appearances under van Gaal.

He joined Celtic on loan in the summer of 2015 before being sold to Championship side Reading a year later, where he spent four years.

Following a season with Nottingham Forest, Blackett joined MLS side FC Cincinnati in August this year and has made 11 appearances so far this season.

CB – Phil Jones

Fresh off featuring for England at the World Cup in Brazil, Phil Jones made 24 appearances during van Gaal's first season as United boss.

In the six seasons since, Jones has only made more Premier League appearances in a season once, having struggled with injuries.

He remains at United and has recently featured for the under-23s as he continues his comeback from a knee injury which has kept him out since June 2020.

CB – Chris Smalling

Jones' most common partner in central defence in 2014/15 was Chris Smalling, who continued to be a regular starter for United under both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

However, the former England defender saw his chances of regular starts decrease when Harry Maguire was signed from Leicester City in 2019.

As a result, Smalling departed United on loan and joined Italian giants Roma, before making the move permanent last summer after an impressive season in Serie A.


RM – Jesse Lingard

Fresh off the back of an impressive loan spell at Brighton, Jesse Lingard made his Premier League debut in van Gaal's maiden United match.

However, a knee injury forced the 21-year-old off after 24 minutes and he would not play again in the league that season.

He remains at United, however, having made over 200 first team appearances for the club and scored the winner in the FA Cup final in 2016, van Gaal's final match in charge.

His time at the club does look to be on the verge of ending, though, with Lingard keen to leave in January due to a lack of opportunities despite starring on loan at West Ham United last season.

CM – Ander Herrera

van Gaal's first signing as United boss, Ander Herrera started in midfield against Swansea having arrived from Athletic Bilbao in the summer.

The Spanish midfielder went on to make 189 appearances for United in his five years at Old Trafford before departing in 2019.

He moved on a free transfer to French giants Paris Saint-Germain, where he has won one league title, two French Cups and the French League Cup since joining.

CM – Juan Mata

Juan Mata was Moyes' final signing as United boss but went on to be an integral part of van Gaal's side once he took over.

Mata made 89 appearances under the Dutchman, with only Mourinho playing the Spanish playmaker more for United.

Now 33, the midfielder remains at Old Trafford and has gone on to captain the side multiple times in his eight years with the club.

Overall, he has made 276 United appearances but has made just three this season, with none coming in the Premier League.

CM – Darren Fletcher

Scottish midfielder Darren Fletcher would only play under van Gaal for half a season before ending his 15-year association with United.

The 31-year-old departed on a free in February 2015 to join West Bromwich Albion, where he would spend two-and-a-half-years.

Fletcher joined Stoke City in 2017 and after staying at the club following relegation he left in 2019 before retiring last year.

He returned to United as a youth coach in October 2020, before becoming an assistant manager and then technical director, the role he remains in today.

LM – Ashley Young

Despite starting on the left-hand side of midfield in van Gaal's first match in charge, Ashley Young would soon transition into a full-back.

He also became United captain after switching to left-back and was a member of the England squad that reached the last four of the 2018 World Cup.

Young left United for Inter Milan in January 2020 and went on to win the Serie A title with the club last season.

He returned to England this summer, joining former club Aston Villa on a free transfer, where he has made 13 appearances this season.

ST – Javier Hernandez

Less than a month after van Gaal's first match in charge, Javier Hernandez was sent out on loan to Real Madrid for the rest of the season.

When he returned in the summer of 2015, the Mexican was sold to German side Bayer Leverkusen, ending his five years with United.

He has gone on to have a spell back in England with West Ham as well as in Spain with Sevilla.

Hernandez left Sevilla in January last year to move to the MLS and join the LA Galaxy, where he remains today having scored 19 goals in 33 matches.

ST – Wayne Rooney

United's captain against Swansea and top scorer in the 2014/15 season, Rooney also scored the first competitive goal of the van Gaal era at Old Trafford.

Having dropped into a more deeper playmaking role across the next two seasons, Rooney left United to return to boyhood club Everton in 2017.

He also headed to the MLS after a season back at Goodison Park when he joined DC United in 2018 before returning to England with Derby County in January last year.

After a spell as Derby caretaker manager, Rooney retired at the start of this year to become their new boss and remains in charge of the financially stricken Rams.


Adnan Januzaj

Adnan Januazaj was called upon from the bench inside the opening half an hour to replace the injured Lingard.

The once promising Belgian winger had been a breakout star under Moyes but made less than 30 appearances under van Gaal.

Loan spells at Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland failed to re-ignite his United career and he was sold to Real Sociedad in the summer of 2017.

Januzaj has looked rejuvenated since arriving in Spain and earned a recall to the national team ahead of the 2018 World Cup, where he scored against England.


A half-time substitute for Hernandez, Nani also left the club shortly after van Gaal's first match as he returned to Sporting Lisbon on loan.

Following his season back in Portugal he was sold to Turkish side Fenerbahce and has since gone on to have spells in Spain, Italy and Portugal again.

Since February 2019, Nani has been starring in the MLS for Orlando City and is currently the club's captain.

However, the 35-year-old is set to be without a club in the new year when his deal with Orlando comes to an end.

Marouane Fellaini

The third and final sub used by van Gaal in his first match was Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini, another Moyes signing.

Fellaini would out last both van Gaal and Mourinho at Old Trafford as his towering presence remained at United until 2019, when he moved to Chinese Super League outfit Shandong Luneng.

In China, Fellaini has regularly been deployed in a more advanced role and has even played as a striker, scoring an impressive 30 goals in 76 appearances.

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