Louis van Gaal is a master tactician who, along with star striker Robin van Persie, can break new ground with Holland in the World Cup and also breath new life into Manchester United next season. That’s the view of former Spain international Gaizka Mendieta.
Van Gaal appears to have been energized by his appointment as the new No1 at Old Trafford, coming on top of the responsibility afforded him again as coach of a Netherlands team looking to win the World Cup for the first time in their history. They face Argentina, and Lionel Messi, in Wednesday’s second semi-final in Sao Paulo.
His Midas touch was apparent in the way his lightning-fast Dutch side counter-attacked Spain into submission in their opening Group B game, coming from behind to destroy the world champions 5-1 in Salvador. Van Persie, whom he will link up with again in Manchester, was instrumental in that display.
Van Gaal also earned his fair share of praise, and some criticism, for replacing goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul for the penalty shootout win against Costa Rica in the last round. “I’m sure Manchester United fans will be happy to see Van Gaal there next season,” said Mendieta, our Sony Team Ambassador following the tournament in Brazil.
“He’s a great tactician and understands that side of the game so well. He deserves credit for that. He has Van Persie too, who is the key player. I played under Van Gaal at Barcelona. He was great in terms of explaining things. He had a way he wanted to play, which kind of worked. It wasn’t always easy with the players we had, some of the senior ones, but he involved the players in his decisions, his office door was always open. That’s good, he listens. But he’s the boss, he makes that clear too.
“If he has to drop someone he will. Look at the Netherlands, he’s got a new team of young players and he’s kept just two or three senior ones. He doesn’t mind if he has to drop Van Persie or whoever. He has a clear view of what he wants to do and he doesn’t care about the big names.”