The press conference before the last get together before the World Cup was heavy with agitation. The team manager loves controversy, as we know, and enjoys playing his games with certain members of the press.
We have seen a very buoyant and generous Van Gaal at pressers, we have seen him funny even. This time, the first interviewer (the indeed very annoying Stekelenburg of the NOS) got on Louis’ bad side and the whole press conference was influenced by this. Any other pointy question was answered with “Ah, you must be a friend of Stekelenburg? You should sit together from now on” and more of those sarcastic quips.
His mood will also have to do with the work he can see in front of him. After this period, he only has 1 week in November, which he’ll need to “fine tuning”. This week is an important one for Van Gaal, the perfectionist, but the week is pretty full. We have two nations league games, we have all sorts of of PR and content related tasks for the players, among them, the intro of the new Nike jerseys. Van Gaal also added a former volley ball coach to the mix who will help Van Gaal with the selection of the penalty killer! There is this scientific method – according to Louis – to help analyse which goalie has the best chance to stop penalties.
Most countries (England, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France) have their goalie or goalies for the World Cup. Not us. We still don’t know who is the #1. This time, the former #1 Justin Bijlow, isn’t even selected (although he will join the Oranje camp for the goalie analysis as mentioned, same as Kjell Scherpen) and with Andries Noppert a new name is added. Trusted goalies Pasveer and Cillesen are part of the club, but Flekken, Noppert and apparently Bijlow are question marks. Keepers trainer Frans Hoek will work with the goalies and will present his findings to Van Gaal, who is happy to meet the Ajax and Heerenveen goalie for the first time. But, all in all, Van Gaal doesn’t seem worried about this goal keepers conundrum.
Van Gaal has had several principles in his rich career. Players who wanted to be part of the squad needed to play and play on the position where he wants them in Oranje as well. But these principles have already been abandoned. Today, it’s about “performing”. Players need to deliver. All well and good but have players like Davy Klaasen, Devyne Rensch and Stefan de Vrij delivered, recently? And when questions like these are asked, Van Gaal gets annoyed and claims the reporters are asking mean questions…. It seems this squad might well be the World Cup squad, although Van Gaal leaves the door open for players who are currently injured and used to be part of the squad, such as Lang, Danjuma and Luuk de Jong. For new names, such as Joey Veerman, Xavi Simons or Bryan Brobbey it will be harder. Only when others get injured or lose form will new players be added and only if these new players really deliver.
Van Gaal has decided to invest in scientific methods and included Peter Murphy, former Volleyball coach, to his staff for this week. Action typing is what Murphy studied and he will use his methods to determine which keeper is best equipped for the penalty killer role. Length is a factor, yes (Noppert!) but speed of reaction is as important. A tall goalie who reacts slow is still not a good goalie. They will also work on methods to “distract” the opponent when the opponent is about to take a spot kick. Okay. In 2014, it was “the eye of the maestro” which determined that Cillesen needed to make way for Krul which helped Oranje reach the semis. But Argentina took their spot kicks better and Van Gaal wants to rule out a similar scenario.
The players will also need to spend time on what Van Gaal calls “content creation”. There will simply not be enough time for this later, so Van Gaal wants this to happen now. He doesn’t want this to interfere right before the tournament. This content creation is basically: doing the sponsor thing. Getting photos made with the new kit, or any other sponsor related action.
There is even time for football! Van Gaal will talk a lot this week. He will have group sessions and individual sessions, in which he (and Danny Blind) will focus on video analysis and more instructions to perfect the tactics he wants to see on the pitch. Van Gaal was moderately happy with the way it is going, but it can be executed much better. For now, the second half versus Germany in the last friendly was the best half Van Gaal has seen and now the focus is on doing this for more than one half. The only downside: that second half was not played in Van Gaal’s fave 3-4-3 set up. Work to be done. Van Gaal did say that he will not experiment or allow players playing time. He wants to work towards his firm first team. Don’t expect much chances between now and November. On this topic, when asked if new players were to be expected, Van Gaal let slip that he doesn’t only look at player’s footballing qualities but also how the player deals with…. Van Gaal. The coach is a keen talker and has long tactical talks. In his words, “if a player starts to nod off during my talks, I know I can’t use him.” This probably happened and might well be the reason why a player like Karsdorp or in the past Seedorf were ignored by him.