New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was once the subject of an audacious offer from Sunderland, former chairman Niall Quinn has revealed.
The Dutchman, who will lead The Netherlands into this summer's World Cup finals in Brazil before taking up his new position at Old Trafford, was targeted by Quinn and the then new owner Ellis Short to succeed Ricky Sbragia in 2009. In a turn of events that really does highlight the savagery of being a Sunderland fan, van Gaal instead headed off to Bayern Munich while we got stuck with Steve Bruce.
Quinn told The Irish Examiner:
I was cheeky enough before appointing Steve Bruce to ring up van Gaal.
He was on a sabbatical at the time. I think his wife was on my side because he was home a lot and she encouraged me to keep ringing him! It was a brave call for us to make to try to lure someone like that. He was very courteous and didn't dismiss the idea.
Our owner, Ellis Short, would have backed it. He was 100% behind it if it had come off.
Then a massive club came along and blew us out of the water at the time. But, as they say in the north- east of England: ‘Shy ones get nowt' so at least we had a go.
Imaging what what have been had it been a manager of the calibre of van Gaal spending Ellis Short's millions instead of Steve Bruce is basically maddening. It probably never got close to ever being an actual reality.
But how typically Sunderland. Always on the verge of doing something special, but never quite happening for us.
Why do you hate us, football?! All we do is love you! ALL WE DO IS LOVE YOU!!