Tag: Indonesia

The Louis van Gaal show in Asia….

I said it here before and many of you concurred: Louis van Gaal is a wonderful coach. Great tactician. Good training material. Yadda yadda yadda. But he’s also a bit of a wanker. Big Ego. And not capable of not taking himself too seriously… We all said it: we will have some fun with Louis too, on the way to Brazil.

And I once mused….wouldn’t it be great to be a fly on the wall at times?

Well, a journalist of VI, the Dutch football magazine, offered us this perspective. Michel van Egmond gives us his story about what is going on behind the scenes. When Oranje “did” Asia, he was present.

Here it is.

“Bejing is a wonderous city. You can see soldiers guarding something vague on the weirdest spots. People talk in some weird language, with mouth caps for. And eat anything on four legs. Except maybe the table. But the most hallucinating image on that particular morning is offered up not by a Chinaman but a Dutchman. He strolls through the massive door of the Peninsula Hotel and even Chinese taxi drivers push the brake to have a better look. And would you believe it: a middle aged guy, right out of his bed, walks out of the hotel, yawning and scratching his right leg, dressed in orange slippers and an orange robe…

Lvg boos

More interesting than the games Oranje play, are the press conferences Louis gives. The KNVB wants to do their best to show that Louis is not really the grumpy old man we all think he is. But everytime they try and position him differently, he mucks it up and comes across even worse!

How’ bout this one? The KNVB has organised a big suite in the hotel. Nice fruit, saucers with cookies, chocolates and fresh tea and coffee. And a nice Chinese wait person to help with all the necessities. Van Gaal is chatting with press officer Kees Jansma. The media people slowly come into the room. Van Gaal ignores them at first. People go up to him to greet him. Van Gaal would never greet first. As a Radja, he expects people to come to him. He doesn’t say anything but gives short nods. To some he says nothing more than “good afternoon”. Van Gaal doesn’t do visits. Van Gaal does audiences. Like the Pope.

Van Gaal turns around to Jansma and says: “That’s it?”.

Jansma: “I think so.”

Van Gaal seems to think he deserves more journalists. Then he says: “Ok go ahead”.

The first journo says: “Are you happy with the way things are going?”.

Van Gaal: “Yes”.

Awkward silence. The team manager is a master in giving his public the feeling they are not welcome. People always laugh nervously when he makes a joke. Because he is not a stand up comic. His jokes are not funny. People laught to break the ice. Everyone desperately tries to break the ice… And then he picks up and starts to talk. About the program, the preparation, about Wesley Sneijder and more. In a somewhat condenscending tone. But, as we all know, once Van Gaal talks football he doesn’t sell bullshit. He knows what he is talking about. But ouch….suddenly the door opens and a Chinese reporter comes in. Too late.

lvg boos2

Van Gaal: “Well you are too late!” and sits straight up into his chair.

Reporter: “Yes”.

(A day earlier, Van Gaal was late for a practice session with Chinese youngsters. Close to a 100 kids had to wait for the coach, eleven minutes to be precise, due to traffic jams. But this fact didn’t give any cause for self reflection )

Van Gaal acts the gym teacher from the 1950s again: “Too late, means…in my class you can’t come in!”.

Reporter: “Apologies apologies”.

Another question. Does Van Gaal think there is a risk in selecting young players, as they lack consistency and sometimes will have a setback in their performance?

Van Gaal: “Oh, you are trying to talk me into something? I don’t believe that!”

Reporter: “Eh no, I am not trying to talk you into anything… It’s not a suggestion, it is how it is, I believe.”

Van Gaal: “No, you are suggesting things. That young players can’t sustain their level. That is your theory. But I won the CL with kids of 20 year old. So, what you say is bullshit.”

A bit aggressive for a pretty normal question… Another reporter doesn’t want to give up on this topic and supports his colleague… Van Gaal: “And how bout Sneijder then? He doesn’t play at a constant level either. He’s 29 years old! Or Robin van Persie? You must have noticed that he hasn’t scored for a spell at Man United? Has nothing to do with age. That is what you, the media, make up!”

The tone of the meeting starts to make it Monty Pythonesque. Van Gaal is looking for a rift. One reporter asks if Sneijder’s form has anything to do with Sneijder’s lifestyle? Maybe Wesley is living it up too much? Can I ask that, the reporter adds.

Van Gaal: “No! No, you can not ask this. That is not decent. You don’t have any dealings with his personal life. How do you think you are?”

And when another reporters wants to know if Van Gaal can help Sneijder getting fit again, he again is annoyed. “No of course not! I only see him eight times per year and then I can’t even train with him properly. Because if I make Sneijder work too hard, you guys will start to criticise me again!”

Most reporters start to giggle. They can’t stop themselves. Van Gaal rants on: “This has all happened. All of this. And then you guys think you are the coach!”

And he stops talking.


I try: “But why would you care? What does it matter if some newspaper writes you train to hard? You are the team manager?”

Van Gaal: “I don’t care.”

Me: “Well, it seems like you do….”

Van Gaal: “I don’t.”

Me: “No?”

Van Gaal: “No. But I can give my opinion what is in the media?”

Me: “Sure. You can do whatever you want.”

Van Gaal: “Or is it only permitted for you to criticise me but I can’t criticise you?”

Me: “No, I never said that. No please, criticise us!”

Van Gaal: “Oh, so I can?”

Me: “Sure! It’s entertaining!”

Van Gaal: “Oh well, thank you that this is allowed.”

Another reporter heard that Sneijder had “left the meeting when Van Gaal informed him he was no longer skipper”. He wanted to know what that meant? Did Sneijder leave the room or did he leave the trainings camp….?

This is a detail. Louis could have said: “Oh he went to his room.”

But Louis didn’t. This is what Louis did, raising his voice: “Oh you are a piece of work! You are an irritating little chap, aren’t you? Un-be-liev-able… Always taking the negative approach!! He went to his room! Plain and simple.”

Reporter: “I’m just doublechecking the facts.”

Louis: “So why didn’t you ask: did he go to his room?? Why does it have to be “or did he leave the camp?”… No my friend!”

Reporter: “Why are you being so worked up?”

Van Gaal: “I’m not!”

Reporter: “You are very wound up!”

Van Gaal: “No, I simply criticise the question.”

And he is silent again.

Reporter: “Louis, your whole body language and tone…it’s all so condenscending. Is it us? Or do you despise all the media?”

Van Gaal: “There are people in the media I respect.”

Reporter: “But these people are not in this room?”

Van Gaal: “And you are putting words in my mouth again!”

Reporter: “No, it’s a simple question.”

Van Gaal: “Oh you are simply asking questions… A top journalist you are, simply asking some questions. You have to stay sharp man.”

Louis van Gaal

“I am the best!”

Van Gaal is not present when the Oranje squad visits the Forbidden City later. The security people are with the players though. Although Jasper Cillisen and Jens Toornstra and Erik Pieters have nothing to fear from the people there. No one knows them. No one cares. Louis is not coming along. He might not care too much for culture or he is too busy. He was watching the Young Oranje games every night. When that team reached the semi finals in Israel he said: “I am not surprised. I expected them to.”

Nothing in his communication betrays anything that looks like self doubt. And maybe this is why people respond so fiercely to him. Someone who is so tremendously convinced of himself…you don’t see it in Wenger, Capello, Ancelotti, Heynckes or Guardiola. And he is never boring. His press conferences, even after totally boring and irrelevant games, are great. The only thing more fun than a press conference by Louis van Gaal is a press conference by Louis van Gaal in an other language.

Van Gaal believes that the others need to adjust to him. He loves literal translations of Dutch expressions and has baffled many in English, Spanish and German already.

The Barca players never understood him when he said “No Balon Hospital!”. And so he started to explain that concept.

Van Gaal takes himself so seriously that when the Chinese reporters start to ask the most silly questions at the press conference later, he will respond the only way he can: seriously.

Chinese reporter: “Mr Van Gaal, is it true you lost weight?”

Van Gaal raises his eyebrows. Looks at Jansma.

The reporter: “I mean, you look thinner now.”

Van Gaal: “That is correct. I had a hip operation some time back and I lost some kilos.”

Van Gaal was showered with applause after every question in Indonesia. In China, they don’t do that. But there are not critical questions and every reporter wants on the photo with Mr Van Gaal. One even says: “I am a big fan, Mr Van Gaal!”.

Louis acts as if that is normal.

An English journalist gets the last question: “Why would you want to work in the EPL? There is a lot of pressure on coaches in England?”

Van Gaal: “You clearly don’t know how much pressure there is in Holland. Ask your colleagues!”

Then he gets up. And spreads his arms, says “Thank You” and makes a deep bow. Kees Jansma smiles from ear to ear…

The Louis Show is over….”

lvg hitlerIn Germany, the comparisons between Van Gaal and a certain other famous personality were quite poignant…

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Oranje in Indonesia, in pictures


Finally pictures again!

LVG coach







Van Gaal taking practice serious

players in indo










Boys on school camp

rvp shot







Van Persie not scoring this time… (nor next time)








Siem scored this time… (and next time)

rvp speed







But he did try….

LVG again







“Are you guys so stupid or am I so smart??”

Louis serious







“Yes! Now you are showing me that you get it!!”

robben scores







Robben testing the quality of the net in Indonesia

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Van Gaal is done with scaring little kids.

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The guy on the right didn’t plug the mic in

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“Ok, so this is how big my ego is….”

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“Oops, a camera… I better be joyful now…”

siem again








Siem scored again.

heit pieters







Heitinga, Schaken and Pieters.


sneijder vgaal









“Sneijdertje!! You get your little ass fit now, you hear?”


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Oranje pleases 250 mio Indonesians

But forgets the millions of Dutch fans….

Ah well…it was part holiday, part football development mission, part practice, wasn’t it.

enjoying fans

Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt enjoying the fans

The big guns all were past their big finish lines. RVP winning his first title. Robben winning his first CL. Kuyt surviving the madness of Turkey. De Guzman proving a point to the Spanish and Sneijder lucky to still get a call up…

LVG used a couple of newbies in the team (Nelom, benchwarmer at Feyenoord and Toornstra, midfield motor at Utrecht) and hussled the team nicely up for the second half.

With a couple of more hares for Cillisen (first half) and Dwight Tiendali in the second half.

What was it all about?

About PR. About finally acknowledging all those fans in Indonesia ( ManU / RVP connection but more so, the colonial Dutch Indies connection).

And it was about having fun. A post-season school trip.

Who cares about the game really? Who cares that RVP missed a couple of sitters. The Indonesians enjoyed it. Van Gaal enjoyed himself. The players must have really enjoyed themselves, being treated like Beatles.

And that Robben goal was quite something too.

Many good things to say about the game and a lot of irrelevant bad things to say.

Unfortunately for Lens, he didn’t make it to the end due to injury and his fitness is in doubt for the China game.

Even the Sneijder situation was not really a downer. On the contrary. Louis calls this as he sees them.

He took the band off Sneijder, telling him he is simply not fit for top football at the moment. A harsh but clear message and somehow Sneijder felt relief. He needs to take time to get back and is there a better place for him to do that then under Mourinho at Chelsea? Yes, probably Ajax… But that won’t happen…

Van Persie didn’t mind it either, as the natural leader is now the deserved Oranje skipper. He led Arsenal in the past and is now the undisputed star of Oranje. Arjen Robben had the band in the second half.

skipper RVP

Skipper Robin van Persie

Siem de Jong scored twice with his head. Perfect header as he is. Two goals, that must do him good. Ricky van Wolfswinkel missed luck, just like many other players could have scored if the pitch was a bit more generous.

The surface was wanting, just like the climate was very tough. Humidity up in the 90s and a lot of heat. Van Persie said after the game he had to really grasp for air at times. And this is one of the fittest chaps around….

“It was tough. Playing against teams that only defend is hard in itself, but we couldn’t play our normal fast paced game. Your tank would be empty in 10 minutes… And we don’t know how to play slow…. this is what made us look so bad in the first 45 minutes… “

In the second half, the fitness on Indonesian side ebbed out and Holland got some more space to operate in.

Van Persie is honoured with the skippers role. “Of course. A huge honour. Being the captain of Oranje. You can’t get much higher. Maybe King. Oh and being team manager of course… “

Wesley Sneijder acknowledged he was not able to meet the coach’s requirements. “My year was tough. I didn’t play in Italy for months. At this level, that hurts. Getting back to fitness was impeded by the fact that I wanted to perform for Gala, immediately. We could win the title, we were still in the CL, so you tend to overdo it a bit. And all these little pains start to come, so you are never fit. I will know work as never before to get back to top level. I feel I have let Van Gaal down.”


Lens not so fortunate this gamelens








Jens Toornstra in his first internationaltoornstra

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Van Gaal drops bomb on news conference

Never a dull moment with Louis van Gaal. We knew it. On the way to Asia for two profitable games in the East, Louis van Gaal implied that the World Cup 2014 will be his last job as team manager Oranje.

Quite a surprising message. Is he being open and frank? Or is he playing games? And if so, with whom? The players? The KNVB? Himself? This blog?

“I started this project, because as a coach I never was able to experience a big tournament like the World Cup. Once we have done the WC2014, it’s done. It’s over. Enough is enough. I am not really team manager material anyway. I enjoy working on a daily basis with the players. Normally, I will retire after this tournament… But…you never know, if a beautiful club from the EPL would want, I might be tempted…”

During the press conference, Van Gaal was questioned about his team selection. The ever quotable Van Gaal said that he selected “the logical squad”. Huntelaar, for instance, was not invited. “I think Robin van Persie is the top dog for number 9. Klaasjan did not have a top season. And I want to see other lads at work. I want to see Ricky van Wolfswinkel play. So Klaas Jan would have had to warm the bench. Why would I do this to him? He is a regular Oranje player and I rather have him go on a nice summer holiday.”

And he went on: “No player is certain of his spot. They all have to perform. Rafael had to go back to Hamburg with an injury. Too bad for him, but I know what he can do. For lads like Toornstra and Nelom, this is a golden opportunity. Erik Pieters too, he had a lot of bad luck. But with Blind now in Israel, Pieters can show me what he has. And we all know Erik is Oranje material!”

Van Gaal admitted he broke his own rule by selecting Pieters and Nelom. Both players have not played too many games with respectively PSV and Feyenoord. “I know, I want players with rhythm, but Erik deserves this to end his season on a high. The lad had his value for us already and had some bad luck. With him and Nelom as well, I have to good options for the full back positions. With my normal defenders in Israel, I can test some things out.”

Miquel Nelom is Feyenoord’s reserve left back, behind Martins Indi. But with Martins Indi playing centrally in Oranje (and potentially leaving Feyenoord), there is a fair chance that Nelom will be Feyenoord’s starting left back next season.

“I have respect for Nelom. He seemed to be doing really well as Feyenoord starting left back and the way he handled the fact that he had to make place for Martins Indi was really good. And every time he had to come on the pitch, he played great and with discipline. This kid has the right mentality, as this is harder than when you are a starter.”

Van Gaal was less positive about Jetro Willems. “Willems is a very talented player, but he hasn’t developed this season. He might even have gone back a bit. He needs to work on his weak points.”

Van Gaal explained that the Asia trip (games vs Indonesia next week Friday and China four days later) is not just about the money. “The circumstances next summer in Brazil will be comparable to the Asia climate circumstances. I want to see how the lads cope. We do have to bring some of the big names to these games, like Van Persie and Sneijder, but most of the players if not all really like this trip. Some, like Heitinga, have roots in Indonesia and basically all of them will be in Indonesia for the first time in their lives. Players do enjoy these trips. The KNVB will also try to find ways to support football in Indonesia, so that might be a win-win for all.”

In November, Oranje will play two more friendlies. “But those will be played close to home. I refuse to travel far during the competition. And I want to play two strong opponents then, so different story.”

Later on, an interview with Wesley Sneijder. The Gala man said on his press conference that he will only travel to Brazil in the 2014 summer when he is fit. “If I am only 80 or even 90%, I will not do it. This year taught me that for me, to be of value to a team, I need to be top fit. It was horrific, my return to football at Gala. I was not fit, the coach subbed me at half time, the fans turned against me… I hate that. So I will work my ass off but when I am not fit, I will not go.”

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