In typical form, Louis van Gaal was presented at the KNVB centre in Zeist, along with his staff.
As per usual, he couldn’t help but show his bluster. “I am not doing this for me. I am doing this to give back to Dutch football. Because, when I am sitting on my sofa and looking at what is going on, I too would not know which coach to call. Other than myself. So, I decided I am the best man for the job.”
KNVB Technical Director Nico-Jan Hoogma mumbled charisma-less into the mic, telling everyone that due to the very short prep time for the three September matches, they wanted someone who could make something out of this squad in no time. Someone with the experience to do it and with the authority to do it. This profile seemingly was made for Louis van Gaal.
When Louis started to say that usually, his strength lies in the gelling of a team over weeks of preparation, the Telegraaf immediately pounced: “Ah, so you are not the right man for the job! Nico Jan Hoogma said they picked you because there wasn’t a lot of time, and you say you usually need a lot of time. You’re the wrong man for the job?”
Van Gaal has a love-hate relationship with De Telegraaf (the Ajax newspaper) and definitely with Valentijn Driessen, the chief editor sports. Probably more a hate-hate relationship.
Louis went on to say that thanks to Zoom and Teams, he could do his usual introduction talks with the players now, instead of in trainings camp. He had spoken to 6 players already (Van Dijk, Memphis, Wijnaldum, Blind, De Vrij, Frenkie are names mentioned, but not confirmed) and Van Gaal could say that they were all “more than enthusiastic about him” (I am not sure what that means… does that mean Virgil was jumping up and down on the coach, in Tom Cruise style?) and that some players had told him they would like to have more clarity… Somehow Van Gaal thinks he is the man to give this and apparently gives a backstab to Frank de Boer…
When asked about the system, he said that 1-5-3-2 or 1-3-4-3 was the best system to play in, but he also confided that the players prefer the 1-4-3-3 (he always mentions the goalie as well). And he said: I always listen to the players.
“But to play 1-4-3-3 you need a strong goalie and good wingers. We don’t have that now. So when I look at our strength and the strength/weaknesses of our opponents, I might have to make a different choice.”
He lamented the fact that hardly any player has played for the full 90 minutes, with Malen a bad example of a player who played 40 mins in one game and 20 mins in another. He will select the team which has the best fitness, so players who fail to make minutes will not play.
When asked about vaccinations, he said he would respect the law. He will not force people to get vaccinated but from a team perspective, he does believe it’s best if players would. The Qatar question came up and he became the old Louis: “Why are you asking me this? Do you believe I might be ok with that situation? Why do you want my opinion? You asked Koeman, De Boer now me? Why?”
He didn’t think the players should generate any actions or statements. “I don’t believe we should use the players for this. They didn’t pick Qatar. It’s the Federations and the politicians who need to address this. Obviously, I can’t condone what happened there, but my role is to manage the National Team.”
Asked what he would do or say if the players do want to make a statement: “I will always listen to them. And if I think it’s appropriate and if the whole squad is behind it, I will condone it.”
Van Gaal also had to answer questions about his infamous speech to wave out the Dutch women team to the Olympics, where he said that “a bunch of so-called stars weren’t able to impress” putting his emphasis on the team interest, over individual interests. When grilled, he responded surprised: “Oh? Did you believe I meant the Dutch team? Why? I didn’t say that? I was referring to the French and the Portuguese. They have a team full of celebrities, but they didn’t perform. Oranje went out due to details. A chance missed, a bounce too many, a pass not accurate… And that was it. Football is decided on details. But my comment about the stars not performing, that was not about the Dutch. You are making these assumptions.”
Asked about his ambitions: “I want to win the World Cup. It is that simple. But it will be hard. I mean, it’s a gamble for me. And I don’t even wanted this for me. I was retired. But who else can do it? You tell me? But sure, today I am the great coach. I have a lot of fans and people who follow me, but when we lose vs Norway, and we could, than I’m suddenly a loser. That is how it works.”
Wesley Sneijder thinks the 3rd stint for Van Gaal will be a failure. “I don’t think he can do it. He really needs months with a group to get them to play like he wants. He simply doesn’t have the time and I don’t think he can cope with it. Also, he said all players applauded his signing? Yeah right! Of course, none of them will say otherwise. What do you expect? And he had an hour long talk with the players? Well, I can tell you that he has been the one talking for 50 minutes. I really hope it works but I fear that first week of 3 games will be a disaster.”