Louis Van Gaal has yet coach a practice with Manchester United, yet, the players can hear him loud and clear, as he’s simultaneously leading the Netherlands into a semi-final showdown against Argentina at the World Cup, and changing the culture at Old Trafford.
“I only care about winning,” he said after the Dutch beat Costa Rica in the penalty shootout.
Those words were echoed during the quarter-final game. After 120′ minutes, and the score still tied, Van Gaal still had one substitute left. With 6’2 Jasper Cillessen in goal, Van Gaal felt Tim Krul, a 6’4 goalkeeper would give them a better chance. So, he did the unthinkable and made the switch.
Krul has only saved 2 of 20 penalty kicks in his Premiership career, saved 2 of 5 against Costa Rica on the world’s biggest stage. Yet again, Van Gaal looks genius, but most importantly, it send shock-waves back to the squad: Noone is safe.
United is coming off a disastrous one year David Moyes era. Moyes philosophy is a good, but better suited with underdogs then with a giant club. Moyes masters what he believes his the best tactic, and uses it. Over and over again. If it doesn’t work, keep working on it and odds are, eventually it will work. There was never a plan B, just to improve and master plan A better.
Van Gaal doesn’t wait around. “He prepares for everything” said Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt, who is also rumoured to make his way to Manchester after the mundial. Think Van Gaal would have problems benching Wayne Rooney if he struggles? Not a chance. Van Gaal talks the talk but most importantly, walks the walk. Players know it. Perform or he will find someone else that will preform. Van Gaal is proving, he will change lineups or even change formations for a certain opponent. Criticized by the Dutch media for not playing “Dutch football” in Brazil, and Van Gaal just laughs it off.
Even Spanish legend, Andres Iniesta has touted Van Gaal as a guy who will be able to control the veterans. “He lays down the law to the veterans” he said.
His players have yet to meet him, and before they do, it is all clear. He’s coming in to win. Doesn’t care about how they will go by doing it, or who he upsets along the way, and if you’re not with him, he will find someone else.