Louis van Gaal on chasing Cristiano Ronaldo, spending big and that awards dinner

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Sideshow Bob

Avatar & New Members Forum Mod
May 8, 2011

Louis, you said last year the club was broken. Do you now think it is fixed?

“We only have a better balance of the team. Now we have all the positions double occupied and that is what I have said in many, many press conferences already last season that we were not in balance and I have to play with players in other positions than they normally have to play in or can play.

“Now it is a better balance, but the preparation is the same. Certainly the players have already been working with us for one year, with me and the staff and are used to the philosophy. Now we have to implement that with the new players and that will happen every year because I believe in refreshment of the group.”

There was a big gap to Chelsea at the end of the season. Have you got enough to make that up?

“The gap is only the consequence of our bad start because after the bad start you will be amazed.”

Are you now better prepared to make a good start?

“I don’t know, that could happen again but every day I say to the boys ‘Tottenham Hotspur that is the most important’. The performance against Barcelona (in Santa Clara on Saturday) was much more important than the result. Ok the result is fantastic but we were lucky also. If we’d had that luck against Chelsea away last season, you never know.”

You have let 17 senior players go and brought in 10 - did you expect to make that many changes?

“I believe in refreshment from teams, you need that, to keep the spirit in the teams and also the challenge to be in the line-up and before my time it was not done like that. We had a lot of old players 35, 34, so we needed to do that but it was difficult for me because I was new and I had to do it at once. After that I made my selection. In my preparation I let players go and we bought up to the last day of August.”

Can you still achieve, in three years, what you hoped?

“I hope I shall end my career with the championship of course, that would be fantastic because that is also the aim of Manchester United. My personal aim is that I shall be a manager with four championships in four different countries and in my opinion the best countries of Europe.”

Do you have a realistic chance of winning it this season?

“We at Manchester United buy only players who can contribute to our level.

“You can write every player that you want, every name that you can say, but we cannot say that, it is also difficult to select the players because you need the players, the club the money and the price, so it is not as easy as you think. You have seen that Depay is a talent, much more than that, at his age, maybe the best talent. That was voted by the media or maybe the trainer coaches at the World Cup

“Darmian is from a small club but he also was at AC Milan so is a late developer but I think he can contribute and also Schweinsteiger can contribute as a senior player with a lot of quality. Schneiderlin has to prove it because he was in Southampton where maybe he was the leader, now he is here and I believe in him that is why he is here. But I want more players but it is not always possible.”

How important is your decisiveness in decision-making? Not everyone would have let Van Persie leave...

“That is also a process. It is what we have experienced in the whole season with each other. You have to oversee all the aspects.

“People have written that Van Persie is my favourite player and that I protect him and yes maybe I have done that. But in the end you always have to evaluate which players have contributed to our fourth place which players a little bit and which players no contribution and then you make decisions but you make decisions on facts and not on other things.”

Did you think 'next season Van Persie cannot do enough for me up front'?

“There is also the choice for Wayne Rooney. People have written all season that Rooney is a striker now you ask about Van Persie.”

If Rooney gets injured, how can United score enough goals?

“You have seen Januzaj and in two weeks Chicharito or maybe I buy another striker. I have to evaluate always that process.”

You said buying players is difficult, so if you cannot get this one, is that enough to get you where you want to be?

“It is dependable on Januzaj or Chicharito or Wilson, and Depay can also play in a strikers position and that is also a process.”

Can Rooney do for you what Aguero does for City, or what Costa does for Chelsea?

“Rooney says that he scores at the minimum 25 goals. Last season I had a top scorer with 12 goals and Van Persie had 10 goals. So when I have a striker that scores 25 and Rooney is more or less saying that, I am better off.”

Do you need a 25-goal striker to win the league?

“Not only Rooney has to score but other players have to score and we concede less.”

People thought Januzaj was a winger, but you think he can be a striker?

“I have given him a chance in this position and you have to look if he can do that or not but he has a lot of quality and against Barcelona he showed it for the first time.”

Arsene Wenger said your club is buying its way to glory, almost infering you are abandoning your principals...

“I don’t speak about my colleagues. I never speak about colleagues. It is their responsibility.”

But you have brought through young players...

“You can write that but I don’t want to respond.”

What is the most important aspect to challenge for the title?

“To be fighting for the title. I don’t think I have to tell that (the most important thing). It is not wise to tell that.”

Sideshow Bob

Avatar & New Members Forum Mod
May 8, 2011
When looking back on your first year back in club football, did you realise how much you missed it?

“I like to be on the pitch coaching and communicating with younger people. And with my job as the national coach you are only with them eight times in a year so that is a big difference. But because of our success with the Netherlands it was fantastic. But that’s because of the success and the low expectations of the people in the Netherlands.

“So that was a big surprise and it brought a lot of gratitude and normally in the Netherlands you never get gratitude. But because of the unexpected success it was fantastic.

“And I have challenges for myself. I have said already I want to work ain nd be champions in the four strongest countries in Europe.

“So one of the challenges was that I wanted to participate in World and European Championships. And I said six months before I went to the World Cup that I wanted to come back to club football.

“So I have also ambitions and goals in my life. And that I have done. And after the World Cup I said I would go to the Premier League and after that clubs were coming for me.”

Could you walk away in two years if you don't achieve your goals?

“Yes, I can do that.”

If United offered a new contract, would you take it?

“You never know, you can never say ‘I go.’ I have already said to my wife it might be that we extend in Manchester... but normally I have said to my wife that after 55 years I quit. And I am still business and in two weeks time I will be 64!

Is it a drug to you?

“I can walk away from it. I have already taken two sabbaticals. They were not for a year on either occasions but it was very, very nice. And it was not cats and dogs with my wife. And I have a paradise in Portugal. So I can happily walk away from football and do other things. I know I can do that.”

If you don't win the title within two years, could you still walk away?

“That would be a pity. But then Manchester United shall fire me!”

United have backed you on everything, so does that increase pressure to deliver?

“No, I have read that in the papers that Manchester United is Van Gaal United, but it’s not like that.”

More pressure, though?

“Of course, I have my influence but I also have to listen to my board to the possibilities of Manchester United Of course, I have influence, even big influence. Ok, maybe that is the reason I am here.

“The pressure I put on myself is much higher. I have that challenge, I have that ambition and I have proved it in all the countries I have worked. I have that intrinsic pressure from within. The security staff are always saying to me that I always have a lot of energy. And that I have.”

Is this Van Gaal's United now?

“No, it’s not my Manchester United. Why? Because we have to look for more balance in the team and for more creativity.

“The second goal against Barcelona was a marvellous goal. And we need not only what we have trained in the training session but also we need the creation of the players themselves. And then that has to be a mix. Therefore you need creative players.

“For example, Chelsea have Hazard, Willian and Oscar. There is a lot of creativity there. And you need that because you have to disorganised [teams that park] the bus. Next year there might be more teams who are parking the bus.”

But don't you already have creativity in your team?

“No, you don’t have a good vision I think. We can use much more creativity.”

Do you have the players for that?

“We look for more creativity. Now we have Wayne, Mata, Depay, Young, Januzaj, Wilson, Herrera. Young has had a fantastic season but he is not a Neymar and we have to compete with that kind of class.”

The United supporters loved your awards dinner speech. Was that a deliberate idea?

“No, that’s who I am. It’s not deliberate. It’s not that I think advance that I have to say that. It’s my feeling. My feeling of the season. An intimate celebration and I didn’t expect that it should be filmed on YouTube but you have seen Louis van Gaal – who I am.

“And I say the things how I feel and I think when we had beaten Chelsea it was very close I’m still think of that game, we were much better and we lose and we have one chance and they scored and we ha d a lot of chances and we had 80 per cent more possession, it was nearly a perfect game.

“But we don’t score. And that’s the most important thing. Against Barcelona, we could have scored two-zero already and they don't score, so one hits the post and one De Gea was saving.

“After that we scored and then it is a different game. And that's the same thing then [v Chelsea] at that time. We don't score and they score and that is the difference in the game. At that time when we win it was five points and the pressure was high and then imagine the other matches that we have lost.

Is that the type of thing you can't get out of your head on holiday in Portugal?

“No, I’m thinking at that time, they have Hazard, he can always make goals, he can always make an action and decide a goal. Manchester City have Aguero, it's the same type. Barcelona has Messi, Neymar and Suarez. We as Manchester United have to compete with these clubs. So we have to look also for that kind of players.”

Still looking for him?

“Of course. Because when it is possible to buy for a reasonable price players from that level we shall do that because they can contribute that they are better. With Schneiderlin, with Schweinsteiger, with Depay, with Darmian we are better than last year. But we have to be much better and then I say to you that is the creativity of my players in the front.

Mourinho disagreed with your observation of the Chelsea game...

“Yes, that's provocation. And the winner is always right. Easy to say afterwards.”

Were you convival with Mourinho afterwards?

“After the games I have read that also that I’m drinking a glass of wine. Now I’m the guy who wants always to drink a glass of wine. And I only drink wine with the manager of West Bromwich Albion, he’s a nice guy.

“And away – I think with, two times. But it is difficult because we have to go to Manchester United TV, the press conference. There are a lot of people who want to do something with you as you don’t have the time – it’s mostly the assistants are always together and the managers much too busy.”

How much are you enjoying being United manager?

“The first thing for a manager is always that the board is supporting him. That’s the most important thing.

“And in this club, it is unbelievable. Then we have the fans. And then we have the challenge and it is a big challenge. It’s not so easy. I know that. The players know that because that’s also very important but we believe in it.

“And on Saturday, we have showed that a little bit again because Barcelona is fantastic team also less without Neymar and Messi. You have seen also it’s not easy to play against that but we have shown that but it is pre-season, it doesn’t say anything – we have to deliver at the moment that we have to compete with them. Maybe I hope in the Champions League.”

What does a player have to do to be a successful Van Gaal player?

“He has to know what he’s doing as a player as a team player and when you are a Louis van Gaal player then you don't know only your function in your position but also the other functions in their positions and then you can help each other much more. Then you are improving always the team. That's why you have to improve your vision not only in your position but you also have to know what the team needs. When you have seen Barcelona, the pressing and how they expect where the pass is coming that’s fantastic to see.”

You talk about needing a top creative player, what are the chances of getting Ronaldo?

“He may come. But it is not possible.”

United fans would love it?

“Yeah, of course. But that’s not possible. Why not? Because you have the club, Ronaldo and then you have Manchester United and how much Manchester United want to spend.”


Mar 26, 2010
"Young has had a fantastic season but he is not a Neymar and we have to compete with that kind of class."

Van Gaal upping the standards at United or at least wants and is trying to. Young simply isn't going to post title winning figures. Harsh but it's the truth. Neymar, Suarez, Messi is the standard we need to be at to play 4-3-3, which is maybe why we're looking to play Depay behind Rooney.
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