By Manchester correspondent Alex Stevens
Louis van Gaal has defended Manchester United’s style of play by point out his history of producing attack-minded teams.
Van Gaal has been heavily criticised this season by United former players such as Paul Scholes and Peter Schmeichel for United’s perceived lack of adventure.
But in a light-hearted response to his critics, the Dutchman says his teams, who include former clubs Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AZ Alkmaar, as well as the Holland national side, have always been entertaining to watch.
Describing to the LMA annual management conference how he build Ajax into Champions League winners in 1995, Van Gaal said: “We didn’t have any money and we were bankrupt, so I had to look to youth. We scouted [Jari] Litmanen, a Finnish player, who we bought for £10,000. We also bought Finidi George. He was a Nigerian international. He was £3,000. I paid it by myself! And then, we bought Marc Overmars.
“But the names that you do remember are [Clarance] Seedorf, [Patrick] Kluivert, [Michael] Reiziger. We won everything with very attacking football. I don’t say it too much because otherwise Mr Scholes will be very angry!”
Van Gaal also claimed that he pioneered the coaching methods that are so prevalent in the game today.
“I am also an innovator, and I have changed a lot in terms of preparing for games. I was the first coach who was with a notebook. Now everybody is with a notebook. I was the first coach who used video.
“I’m from a time where you [the manager] did everything. Now I’m the manager and I have a sports science department, I have a scouting department, I have a medical department, I have assistant managers, I have assistant coaches.
“I don’t do anything – nothing! I delegate. I delegate, and I earn a lot of money.”
Van Gaal revealed how he used to spend hours with a video recorder in order to prepare his teams.
“Do you remember VHS video, films? And the [machine’s] counter? I was a father, I was studying, I was a teacher and I was a semi-professional player. So I had to work in the night and I had to prepare my team.
“I count in the counter, ‘1, 2, 3, 4’. And I don’t want to bore my players too much. So, ‘Cut, 55; cut 325’. So, I showed the images, only those images, because the concentration is not too high when I talk for one hour.”
The 64-year-old, who has enjoyed an illustrious 30-year career in management, admits he has sometimes suffered as a result of his arrogant approach but believes a manager with such a bold personality benefits.
“You have to be open, only for your fellow human being,” Van Gaal added. But you have to be true to yourself as a human being and close to your principles because I think that authentic people, they shall always survive.
“Sometimes I have a horrible time because I am too arrogant, I say things how they are. It’s the most difficult way but you shall survive. And I think also that you touch people in the heart. As a leader, you have to touch people, and not superficially but now in the heart.”