A tactical mastermind or an egotistical, abrasive character; you decide what sort of manager Louis van Gaal is.
However, here we provide evidence that he has built up quite a number of enemies and denouncers down through the years.
5. Johan Cruyff
One of Europe’s most renowned players and managers, Cruyff is the first in our list of players and/or managers who have crossed paths with the Manchester United boss in the past.
The Daily Mail outlined some of the reasons why Van Gaal and Cruyff’s feud may have gone on so long. One reason is that, according to Van Gaal, Cruyff blamed the United manager for not thanking him properly after a Christmas dinner party, even though Van Gaal had just received word his sister had died. Cruyff denies vehemently that he ever blamed Van Gaal.
In 2011 Cruyff – in his role as club commissioner – took legal action against Ajax over the proposed appointment of Van Gaal as a technical director at the club because he felt he did not fit into his reform agenda.
The feud lasts to this day, and is supposedly irreparable.
4. Ronald Koeman
The current Southampton boss would have probably liked to have never crossed paths again with the United boss but now both involved in English football, they have already twice met this season, with each pulling off a result in each other’s patch.
The feud between Koeman and Van Gaal, like the one with Cruyff, finds some of its beginnings at Ajax. While Koeman was there as head coach, Van Gaal was appointed as technical director. This appointment didn’t work out due to Van Gaal’s opposition of Koeman’s tactics, which he declared as not in keeping with Ajax’s philosophy.
They were never solely at odds with matters concerning football however, as the Telegraph reported of how Koeman built his dream house in the Algarve overlooking the sea, only for Van Gaal to build a bigger, more expensive home just down the road.
Such instances as this may be why Koeman said of Van Gaal in 2013 that,
“I’m not hateful, but we will never be friends.”
3. Franck Ribery
The France international has claimed that the minute Van Gaal came to Bayern Munich there were problems, despite winning the treble with the German giants in 2010.
Ribery told Goal that,
“We had problems on a human basis. When he started, nobody knew what was going to happen.
“His idea was that he did not care about names at all, you don’t need stars, everybody had to prove themselves again.
“The first contact with him was already poisoned. As a professional you lose your trust. He does great things on the pitch but the coach Van Gaal was a bad man. Our relationship was crushed.”
This insight from a player who has worked under the Dutchman opens up the discussion as to how players are treated by Van Gaal, and it is also something the aforementioned Koeman has said previously, of how Van Gaal’s players tend to fear him.
2. Hristo Stoichkov
The Bulgarian has revealed how he was treated as a player whilst playing at Barcelona under Van Gaal.
In a peculiar story involving Stoichkov’s wife, L’Equipe reports of how the infamous manager approached the striker’s wife and questioned how it was possible she could be married to someone like him.
Stoichkov to this day blames Van Gaal for his departure from the Nou Camp club, stating,
“I have no respect for him, he’s scum.”
1. Luca Toni
Having been a prolific striker with Bayern before Van Gaal moved to the German club, Toni found his first team chances slashed once the Dutchman took over.
“Van Gaal simply didn’t want to work with me, he treats players like interchangeable objects,” Toni told Sport Bild.
Toni also revealed how Van Gaal provided a rather unusual metaphor for how easy it was for him to drop any of the star players in his side.
“The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls,” said Toni.
“He demonstrated this literally (by dropping his trousers). I have never experienced anything like it, it was totally crazy. Luckily I didn’t see a lot, because I wasn’t in the front row.”
Players and managers alike have found the former Netherlands manager’s methods quite unusual. Although he has garned a lot of success throughout his managerial career, it is clear to see his abrasive style can only hold for so long.
At Manchester United the fans will be happy as long as he can mastermind a top four finish but whether he will form a lasting relationship with the club remains to be seen.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena