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.”