LVG Biographer On Start At Man Utd, Rooney, Strootman
The stats show that David Moyes' first 10 games were better than Louis van Gaal’s. For fans yet to be convinced by van Gaal, what are the signs of the click that they should be looking out for?
Don't doubt Louis van Gaal. If the man has two or three years, he will bring them back to the top for sure. I hope they contract Kevin Strootman. He'll probably come in the summer if not in January.
Was giving van Gaal free reign to spend £150m a mistake?
What surprised me is that he didn't contract a defender. A very good defender. He contracted some interesting players in attack and midfield but if you start building a house, I would start at the bottom.
It was a mistake. One good defender. It must be possible to buy a defender with £30m or £40m.
How would you define van Gaal's philosophy in its purest form?
First, is organisation; second, discipline; third, enjoy it; and fourth, play offensive. That's why I don't understand why he didn't contract defenders. If you want good organisation, it won't work with attackers.
Those four things, but what other things? Organisation is so important, and also team-building. If a child of one of the players is having a birthday, he knows about it. He will be celebrating it and shaking the hand of the player. He thinks football is a familial thing. He thinks that footballers have to give and share everything with each other.
Van Gaal made Wayne Rooney his captain. What does he see in Rooney that he likes?
He is a brilliant player. He has got explosiveness but also lots of energy. And Van Gaal likes players with a little problem. Then his father part appears, because Louis van Gaal—this is my psychological view on Louis van Gaal—lost his father when he was 11. He always wants to make an impression on his absent father.
For instance: Memphis Depay for PSV Eindhoven. He is a player who doesn't want to know his father any more, because he left the house when Memphis was three or four. And you saw that Memphis Depay and Louis van Gaal were one hell of a team.
So Louis van Gaal likes Rooney probably because he is struggling with something sometimes, and he wants to help him. And that affects Rooney. I'm sure about that. Van Gaal touches and he laughs with them. It is a very personal treatment. And he is a hard worker right? Louis van Gaal is a workaholic. With Ajax Amsterdam he was the first opening the club and the last one shutting it down with the key.
A father figure, the workaholic; those are traits often associated with Sir Alex Ferguson. From a Dutch perspective, how does Van Gaal compare with Ferguson?
There are a lot of comparisons I think. They are dictatorial; I think Ferguson is more dictatorial than Louis van Gaal, but they can both play boss. They are also father figures, and when players don't like their father figure any more, they are dropped, like with Keane.
That can happen with Louis van Gaal too. But what I don't understand is why didn't Manchester United take him in the first place? Why Moyes?
What do you think could be the cause of United's current injury crisis? The Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen has said it's over-training, van Gaal is too intense; van Gaal is a dinosaur...
No. He is very modern. That is ridiculous. He is still reading about new things happening.
Louis van Gaal is a reader and a talker and if he thinks something is happening there, he wants to investigate it. He has his bad points, but for instance the injuries to Daley Blind and Angel Di Maria, that's contact. But when there are a lot of muscle injuries—there are a lot—maybe he is training in a different way and the players can't cope with that.
We've talked about van Gaal's philosophy, but what is the perfect Louis van Gaal player?
The perfect player for Louis van Gaal is Strootman. He took Daley Blind in the last days of the transfer window, and that says to me that he was fourth, fifth, sixth choice. Daley Blind: good player, but a little bit light.
He is always looking for somebody who is reading the game; who is destructive but not in a destructive way. Louis van Gaal never asks for people to make injuries, start a war, it doesn't matter. He's a clean trainer and that's something I like very much.
What's interesting for him with players like Strootman is they think defensively and offensively. That, for him, is the total player. He's always mentioned the word total: the total human being, the total this, the total that. But Kevin Strootman is a quite extraordinary player. I hope really he comes back at his old level because he is kind of a Roy Keane.
Less aggressive in a way, but he can tackle very hard and could be sent off one time in a season, and score six, seven yellow cards, but he likes to play football and he can play football. I saw him make his debut for Sparta Rotterdam and after 10 games he was the best man on the pitch. He was extraordinary. How no one discovered him? Unbelievable. The complete midfielder.
What attracted van Gaal to English football?
He always mentioned Bayern Munich. After that, when he succeeded there, he begins mentioning the Premier League. But he wasn't (initially) interested in the Premier League because he thought it was kind of dumb football in the 1970's: too rough, too unorganised, too physical. This Premier League though he likes. He sees Mourinho, Wenger and all those brilliant players. But I don't think he's a fan of the English way of playing.
What are van Gaal's greatest qualities?
His great ability is that he has so much energy. He is not an old man. In Holland, we've got a discussion now with Guus Hiddink. He lost four out of his five games and everyone thinks we see an old man. That will never happen with Louis van Gaal.
He's energetic. He's a believer in his own game; his own religion. He wants to show the world that he can do it one more time. He wants to give Manchester and the world a team we talk about. Not only in results but also in play. That's Louis van Gaal.