Louis van Gaal has been lined up to tell the world about his approach to managing Manchester United on Thursday but the Dutchman has already offered a sneak preview into the way he works.
Two weeks before taking the Netherlands to the World Cup in Brazil, Van Gaal spoke to an audience of business experts on stage at FC Twente’s stadium in Enschede during “De Week van de ondernermer” – The Week of the Businessmen. There, he outlined the four key principles United fans can expect to shine through during his reign at Old Trafford:
“The national coach [me] sees opportunities because he believes in vision and structure. When I say that, I mean my vision and my structure. Yes, that is arrogant. I bet you hear that more, that people find me arrogant. It does not bother me. I am not arrogant. I do believe in my vision. So the people who work in my organisation have something to hold on to. That is what I believe in.”
“I see chances because I believe in preparation. That is half the job. My mum used to say that and she only went to primary school. But she knew that. You don’t think I would be standing here without preparing? Training. In football that is normal. Is it normal in a company? You recruit people and do you train them to create the best product? I do that. I train them every day. I go over certain things every day. I do training, analysis and evaluation. That is what I believe in.”
“I can’t do it on my own. Because I don’t know everything, do I? I know you start laughing, because I am portrayed continuously that I do know everything. I listen to specialists – do you listen to your employees? They produce your stuff.
“The coaches, these are my staff. If I go back to what I believe in: Preparation, training, analysis, evaluation, then it all comes down to the use of my organisation. I have 12 members of staff who are working for me, who are preparing, training, analysing and evaluating for me. I am the one who has to guide them, steer them in the right direction.
“We have two assistant coaches and a goalkeeper coach. Including me as head coach, that is a group of four staff members who are just focusing on skills and tactics. I have a total of 12, including all the others, physiologists, video analysts. This is how important it is to work in my organisation so I can get the best product possible on the pitch. Altogether, there are 37 people in my staff.
“When I became national coach, the whole world thought I was going to pick the players who had to get us to the World Cup. No – first the staff. I always first pick my staff. I have to surround myself with good staff. I always make sure that I have specialists in every department who advise me.”
“When I saw the Dutch squad players for the first time two years ago, I showed them something. I showed them Barcelona, who play with the triangle midfield with the point directing to the defence, one controlling midfielder. Yet they don’t have a real striker. They have a different kind of striker. Well, okay, that is [Lionel] Messi, indeed, a very different striker.
“I had something to say about that to my players. I prefer to have a real striker in my team. Not a false No.9, which is Messi. I also showed the players Spain. Otherwise the players would say: ‘Yes boss, but how can we adapt to a new system when we only meet up eight times a season for a couple of days?’ Well they’d be right saying that.
“I showed them the Spanish national team, they play like that. The boys in my squad knew from day one what the vision of Van Gaal stood for. That was very important. I was clear to them. I made sure there was transparency. You always have to be transparent.”