Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal: 'I'm not a dictator - I'm a communicator'
Louis van Gaal has mounted a staunch defence of his management style, insisting: "I am not a dictator - I am a communicator."
After accusations of rifts and a player mutiny in some quarters, Van Gaal came out fighting at his weekly press conference at Carrington on the eve of Manchester United's home game against Liverpool.
The 64-year-old admitted Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick came to him after the opening match of the season against Tottenham to air their concerns.
The captain and vice-captain had become worried about morale within the squad and felt they had to transmit that to the manager.
''Rooney and Michael Carrick came to me and said: 'The dressing room is flat.','' the Dutchman said.
Van Gaal was irked by the fact that the story had leaked to the media.
But there was no anger towards the players. In fact, the manager was happy his two most senior professionals approached him as he feels his working practices have now improved for the better.
"It's a positive thing that the players are coming to me and not only Carrick or Rooney, other players," Van Gaal said.
"But now it was Carrick and Rooney and that was alarming for me because they are the captains. That's why I went to the dressing room.
"But all the players are communicating with me. They are coming to my office. Believe me, it is like that. I am not a dictator - I am a communicator.
"I have changed the way that I say the game-plan to them, for example. Now I ask in advance and they can say what they want. Most of the strategy is always the same because they like the way we have done it.
"I went to the dressing room, analysed the situation for them to give it a place. After that the atmosphere was much better and after that we won again."
Van Gaal denied he was placing too much pressure on his players with the number of meetings held at Carrington.
"When you have professional behaviour, you know there are a lot of meetings," he said.
The United boss insisted only serious suggestions would be welcome, however.
He added: "It is still better than every other job. Still better, because, as a player, you can work with your hobby. Or you have to change your attitude to a professional attitude. So you want change something in that process? Then you need fantastic arguments."
To press home the idea that he retained the full support of his players, Van Gaal banged a fist into his palm midway through the press conference, and recited a song often heard on the United terraces.
An animated Van Gaal yelled: ''The fans are shouting every week 'Louis van Gaal's army! Louis van Gaal's army!'. They are very satisfied with Louis van Gaal and the players are also satisfied with me.''
With the number of incomings and outgoings at the club this summer, Van Gaal always felt there would be a couple of bumps in the road when it came to his players adapting to his management style.
''I can say only that I have a very good relationship with my players, but it is logical now that only nine are left from the initial group,'' the former Barcelona manager said.
''The others I have bought will not say I am a lousy manager.''