Van Gaal revealed back in September 2015 that, following a 0-0 draw with Newcastle and a gloomy 2-1 defeat at the hands of Swansea City, Rooney and Carrick spoke to him about the negative changing room atmosphere.
The discussion clearly had an important short term effect, with Man United claiming a 3-1 win over Liverpool on their next outing, but their season quickly nosedived and van Gaal was duly dismissed at the end of the season.
Carrick, speaking to ESPN, shed further light on what was discussed during that meeting with the Dutchman.
“Why do teams play well? Why do they not? You can look into all sorts of reasons — is it mentality, tactics? There are so many things,” he said.
“If you are drilled into playing a certain way, as we were for the last couple of years, there was a real structure to it and you just get into the habit of playing that way. That is good, because it shows that the manager has you playing that way, how he wanted it, but it’s not always easy to snap in and out of ways of playing.
“Jose is now getting his way and philosophy into the team and that is the job of a manager and why it is tough, when teams chop and change their managers, for players to adjust from one philosophy to another.
“We just spoke to him as the senior players, to have a conversation to say that everyone wanted to be better. We weren’t having a great time in terms of results and it happens to a lot of teams, but you just have to do something about it.
“It was a fair conversation, nobody went in there fighting or anything, and it wasn’t really a big deal. It probably sounded like a big deal, but it happens all the time at clubs all over the country.
“Sometimes a manager will pull you aside in training or in his office, but it just so happened that me and Wayne went to chat to him. It got built up to quite a big thing, but that’s just the way it is.”
It is indeed a testament to van Gaal’s frosty demeanour that he couldn’t notice for himself that the dressing room – his dressing room – was deflated.
Then again, it was clear from day one that the Dutchman was not exactly a man for sentiment, nor for even accurately gauging the emotions of others. In fact, it feels as if we as supporters never managed to truly understand van Gaal, both as a manager and as a human being. I was hoping to see beneath that surface of unpredictable lunacy and find the person – the competent manager – within, but I’m afraid to say he left last year with me feeling none the wiser about who the ‘real’ Iron Tulip was.
More importantly, though, we should have gauged that something was awry when players, after not even a month of the new season, were complaining about a ‘flat’ atmosphere in the dressing room. A sharp, sharp contrast to the buoyant, determined mood being fostered under Jose Mourinho this time around.