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Van Gaal seeks World Cup with one eye on future

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Updated 12 May 2014 01:16:52

Van Gaal seeks World Cup with one eye on future

Louis van Gaal goes to the World Cup finals "sick" of being the coach of a Dutch team that would test the patience of a saint.

And that has fuelled expectations that he will be the next Manchester United manager.

Van Gaal's mantra for footballing success has always been "discipline is the basis for creativity".

However, he will have his work cut out to make it work in Brazil, which will be his swansong for the Dutch Federation (KNVB).

The 62-year-old -- who steps down after the finals and has said he would like the vacant job at Old Trafford -- has at least got the Dutch to the finals, a feat he failed to achieve in 2002 when he was last in charge.

When asked why he had decided to leave, Van Gaal gave a characteristically blunt response in February.

"Because after two years I'm sick of being the national coach," he told newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

"I've invested the last year and a half to do what I like doing best at the World Cup.

"I couldn't stay there for another two years," up to Euro 2016, he added.

Van Gaal, who has won Dutch titles with Ajax and unfashionable AZ Alkmaar, a Bundesliga crown with Bayern Munich and two Spanish championships with Barcelona, has always been known as one neither to suffer fools gladly nor to put up with disruptive influences in his squads.

He also has an unceasing belief in himself. "I am the best," he declared after he guided AZ to the Dutch title in 2009.

Van Gaal's most glorious time as a coach came with the young Ajax side he guided to the 1995 Champions League as well as three successive Dutch titles.

- Authority -

He raised eyebrows when he returned for a second spell in charge of a Dutch national squad notorious for petty disputes destroying their chances of success.

Van Gaal inherited a divided and demoralised squad from the sacked Bert van Marwijk after Euro 2012.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar threw a tantrum when the out-of-form Robin van Persie was picked ahead of him in the starting XI and it was reported Wesley Sneijder refused to pass to the Arsenal striker.

The Oranje went out in the group stage just two years after reaching the World Cup final.

It is an indication of the authority Van Gaal brings that Huntelaar appears to have accepted the same pecking order, with the coach saying openly last year that Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Kevin Strootman were the only three players he regarded as indispensable.

Strootman, of Roma, will miss these finals because of injury.

However, despite his reputation as a disciplinarian, midfielder Mark van Bommel, who was captain under Van Gaal at Bayern Munich, has insisted his players don't mind it.

"You don't find a player with anything negative to say about him," said Van Bommel, who captained a largely unloved Dutch side to the 2010 World Cup final.

Popular with most of his players, Van Gaal is perhaps less so with journalists.

He often clashes with football writers, accusing them of asking "dumb" questions.

"Is it just me being so clever, or is it you who is being so stupid?" Van Gaal once famously sneered at one hapless reporter.

Van Gaal, who prefers a more stylish way of playing than the one imposed by Van Marwijk, has conceded that being drawn in Group B with Spain, the talented Chile and Australia, who the Dutch have not beaten in two meetings, means his side face a tough task qualifying for the last 16.

"We consider ourselves as outsiders. I arrived as coach (after Euro 2012) with certain targets: qualify for the finals and then reach the semi-finals," he said in March.

"However, the semi-finals will be a really hard goal to achieve."


AFP

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