When Louis van Gaal received his first managerial role in 1991, he told the club director: “Congratulations on signing the best coach in the world.” He was not managing Holland’s equivalent of East Stirlingshire or a B team, but Ajax, the biggest club in Holland and three times European champions. By the time he left Amsterdam six years later, Van Gaal had added a fourth European Cup to the trophy cabinet.
Arrogant, argumentative and, sometimes, downright offensive, Van Gaal was exactly what Manchester United needed. Unlike David Moyes, he is neither the supporters’ preferred man nor the best man for the job, but he is ideal for a club of Manchester United, but why do people just love to hate him?
“I’m not quite sure how you got in the squad either, Dirk.”
It comes as no suprise then after years of managing that former players and staff are criticizing. Not just former players, but some of the very best the game has seen. From Romario, Rivaldo, Van Basten, Van Persie, Rafael, Ibrahimovic, Johann Cruyff, Rene Meulensteen, Stoichkov, Di Maria, Valdes, and even recently departed Javier Hernandez, the fact remains many just don’t like him.
Its not surprising to hear comments as: Louis van Gaal ‘destroying’ Manchester United – ex-Barcelona star Stoichkov
ESPN FC’s Alejandro Moreno and Dan Thomas once discussed the latest Louis van Gaal detractor Hristo Stoichkov who stated Van Gaal was ‘destroying Manchester United’.
Hristo Stoichkov says his former Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal is “destroying” Manchester United, and warned Pedro Rodriguez not to move to Old Trafford.
Stoichkov won five La Liga titles and the 1992 Champions League as a Barca player but left the Camp Nou shortly after Van Gaal’s arrival in 1997.
The Dutchman went on to win two La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey in his first spell as Barca coach, which ended in 2000, but his second stint, in the 2002-03 season, was much less successful and was marred by a row with Rivaldo.
Stoichkov, now a radio pundit in Spain, told radio show “Al Primer Toque” that Van Gaal could not get on with top players.
“[Van Gaal] makes the players suffer, as he was such a mediocre player himself,” the former Bulgaria international said. “He is destroying all the players, as he is so mediocre — look at the players who have left because of him. First he destroyed Barcelona in that era, then it takes many years to rebuild.”
United have invested heavily over the last two summers, but Stoichkov said he was unimpressed with their performance in Saturday’s Premier League opener against Tottenham, when a Kyle Walker own goal gave them a 1-0 win.
“Now [Van Gaal] is spending €200m, and the other day I saw their first game in the English league — disastrous,” he said. “They won 1-0 with an own goal and he is happy.”
United were expected to sign Pedro from Barca this summer after selling Angel Di Maria to Paris Saint-Germain, but he opted to join Chelsea instead.
The forward did not arrive at Barca until after Van Gaal’s departure, though, and Stoichkov said the Spain international would damage his career if he moved to Old Trafford.
He later stated: “I would never let Pedro leave, never, because if he goes there he will stop being a player,” he said. “I hope Pedro listens and says: ‘I’m staying at Barcelona.'”
Stoichkov, though, said that La Masia graduate Pedro’s commitment to the club was more important than any financial concerns.
“Barcelona does not need money — it doesn’t matter if it is €20m, €30m or €50m,” he said. “Pedro is a symbol of barcelonismo, Pedro is a guy who never … I would never sell a guy who is so committed, a guy with energy, who fights to be a great player.” Days later Pedro swapped the Nou Camp for Stamford Bridge.
Former United Assistant Rene Mulensteen once quoted in an interview: “Remember these words. If I’m speaking to you, I’m exchanging information over what I feel passionate about but I don’t lecture you. I’m not preaching to you. If you go and sit with Van Gaal, you’ll come out thinking ‘I’m 12 years old’. He will speak to you as if you have no clue. He will look at you and be thinking ‘what are you asking me? I’m Louis van Gaal’. He’s not my cup of tea. It’s one of the reasons I quite like Ronald (Koeman) as a person – he doesn’t preach or lecture people like the other guy does.”
Van Gaal has, and in his own inimitable way will, handle the media with greater ease than most managers, perhaps only Sir Alex Ferguson commands most attention and delivers a speech more ferociously when on the podium. The media who portrayed United as plucky underdogs instead of a footballing behemoth after his appointment as United manager had to deal with “Try” as his favourite verb in his first press conference, he denounced Moyes “aspired” to make United be like Manchester City and sanctioned a reported who said United “really enjoyed” playing in the Champions League, a competition they featured in for 18 successive seasons until he took over the reins.
“That is a stupid question,” Van Gaal responded when asked for his thoughts on United two weeks ago. “I think it’s a stupid question. Because we are the biggest club in the world. ‘What do you know about Manchester United?’ I’m sorry,” he laughed.
Hated, adored, but never ignored, Van Gaal needs no introduction, and neither does his short fuse to hold a grudge.