Wednesday 20 May 2015 14:26, UK
Louis van Gaal stole the show at Manchester United's player of the year awards night by providing what our own Gary Neville described as the best and funniest 20 minutes he has ever had.
Van Gaal delivered a seven-minute speech during which he punched the air when recounting how Wayne Rooney told a team meeting they could still finish second despite their poor start.
"When you start a season with 10 matches and 13 points, and you are a manager of that club, the most world famous club, and you play at home, and I am also a human being and I have the experience with other clubs, when you have that result you are not very beloved by your fans," he said.
"I came in the stadium of Old Trafford, 10 matches, 13 points, and I came in and I saw by myself how I have to behave myself, and then the public are applauding, standing up and I thought 'how is it possible that the fans are supporting me'?
"Thanks to that we could continue – not only me, my staff but especially the players because it is not so easy when you are playing in a great club that you have 10 matches,13 points and a new manager who demands in another way than all the other managers.'
"It's very difficult and with all the injuries of the first part of the season. And then we continue with a spirit in the team, unbelievable, and that's the credit of this team, the spirit. We come from - I thought in my memory 13th place - to third position in the league. After such a bad start.
"And then we had to believe the players but also the staff that we could end second. I remember the meeting with the players with the captain Wayne Rooney who's saying 'we go for the second position in the league"' and I said 'Yes! We go for it!'."
Van Gaal also said the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea was proof that United are narrowing the gap on the newly-crowned champions and were not far from challenging for the Premier League title.
"You remember the away game against Chelsea?," he said.
"No, no, no, you have to listen. I ask you to listen. Six games in a row we win and then we go to Chelsea. Who are the better team then? It's easy to say that now in this room. I can believe it but it was the truth, but we lost.
"We lost that game but can you imagine when you have 80 per cent ball possession, you have 10 big possibilities and they have three, they have three and they win the game!
"What I want to say to you is, we are very close!"
Towards the end of the night the Dutchman returned to the stage to grab the microphone and salute the club's fans, and in particular a musically gifted regular at Old Trafford.
He said to great laughter: "I want to say something, pay attention to the manager.
"Ryan Giggs said to me, and he is always right but in this case particularly right. I have said to you, you are the best fans in the world but tonight I was a little bit disappointed and I shall say why.
"I have seen a lady who plays the saxophone fantastically. Give her big applause!"
Van Gaal also presented David de Gea with the players' player of the year award for the second year running - the first player to do so since Cristiano Ronaldo - had the following exchange with event host Jim Rosenthal.
Van Gaal: You have the envelope.
Rosenthal: I thought you might know it?
Van Gaal: I think at the end it is difficult. Oh, I have to read it?
Rosenthal: You have to read it. It took us by surprise by going that way.
Van Gaal: First of all I would like to say. I am proud to be present with the best fans of the word. Then my question is, are the fans wise as the players? What do you think?
Rosenthal: I think your football fans at Man Utd know a huge amount of football.
Van Gaal: Then I have to say when it is like that. It is a disaster for the manager. Because I am a coach who loves attacking football. And when the goalkeeper is the best player of the year ….I didn’t announce it yet! The best player of the season is David de Gea. I want to say a few words to David. Now you have to be silent. David I am your manager and you are the best player of the season and you can imagine that I don’t like that!
De Gea: I know. That is normal.
Van Gaal: But I am very proud of you. I have seen him in the first matches and I have seen him in the second part of the season. And I think you have developed yourself more than other players in Manchester United and that’s why I am agreed with the choice of defence. Congratulations you have deserved it!
Sky Sports Football pundit Neville took to social media to write: "I don't know if anyone is still up. But LVG is cracking me up here. Great entertainment! One of the best / funniest 20 mins I've ever had."
Van Gaal also entertained former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, who tweeted: "The greatest speech of all time... #LVG."
He also jokingly clipped his assistant Ryan Giggs round the head for outbidding him for a charity auction prize of a round of golf with former United striker Dwight Yorke.