Dutch midfield legend Mark Van Bommel, 38, has endorsed Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal’s credentials despite not always seeing eye to eye with his fellow countryman’s methods.
“We are thinking how we can defeat the opponent, and to be better than the opponent not only with the ball but also without the ball.
“Physical, technical, and tactical – we want to be the best in every aspect of the game – that’s the Dutch way of thinking.
“But sometimes it’s also good to win an ugly game 1-0 and go home. Van Gaal just wants to be better and better. When he loses but the team were better, that’s ok.
“Maybe I’m not a typical Dutch guy, I learned in Italy that you have to win first, and then play well.” admitted Van Bommel who was sure Van Gaal could prosper at United with the right financial backing.
Van Gaal’s methods were very successful at Bayern in his first year.
“We won the Bundesliga, the German Cup, and we were in the final of the Champions League.” said Van Bommel of Van Gaal’s successful first season in charge of Bayern in 2009/10.
“It was a big change for the club.” admitted Van Bommel, who spoke after the Legends game between former Manchester United and Bayern Munich players.
“When Van Gaal came it was totally different and we had slight problems in the beginning but everything settled down. On the pitch it was good, outside the pitch it was a little bit difficult.” said Van Bommel of the change from German culture to Dutch culture at the Bayern.
“He has a way, and it’s his way. He doesn’t want to go left or right, only straight.
“Everybody knows what he wants. I had problems with him in December and left to go to Milan in January. It was strange to change club, especially as captain and in the winter, but it was my decision to go.
“I have no regrets because I became champion in Italy, Germany, Spain and Holland but I didn’t play in England.” added Van Bommel as he hinted about the differences of opinion he had with Van Gaal before he decided to leave in January 2011.
“It’s a total change with Van Gaal but if you give him the time he has good ideas how to play on the pitch but he’s not easy to work with.
“He has a way and only goes straight. He will only listen if you have a good argument. If you say ‘It was s**t’, he will ask you why and then you’ll have to explain.
“If you give him the time he has a good idea how to play on the pitch but he’s not easy to work with. That’s the life of a coach. Sometimes you have to make decisions that are not so nice.” explained Van Bommel.
Van Bommel illustrated the point with the player’s side of events at the infamous moment when, as Bayern boss, Van Gaal dropped his trousers.
“The German players didn’t understand what he meant. He was trying to say that he changed two players after 55 minutes. And he wanted to explain why he did it. He was searching for the right words but his explanation was: ‘I do not change just to make a change.'” said Van Bommel.
“Afterwards we were laughing, and were all doing it in the dressing room too!”
Van Bommel indicated that Van Gaal did had a plan but dropping his trousers made an impression on the players, although perhaps not the intended one in some ways as Van Bommel revealed something about the size of Van Gaal’s ‘ego’ using thumb and forefinger while beaming widely.