As the curtain came down on World Cup 2014, Louis van Gaal and his captain Robin van Persie were asked several questions about their return to Manchester United among other things following their 3-0 defeat of hosts Brazil in the third place play-off.
While the tournament became as much about Ron Vlaar’s defending and Louis van Gaal’s tactics as it did about the individual brilliance of Neymar and Messi, almost every player that had a good game for the Dutch was in one way or another linked with a move to Manchester. Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat, Daley Blind, Nigel de Jong and Arjen Robben have all been linked with a summer move, and while we appreciate the fact that you can disregard most of it, some of the speculation might have foundation in something real.
While van Gaal departs his role as head coach of the Netherlands, the time has come for Gus Hiddink to replace one of the most popular men in Dutch footballing memory. “I have a special bond with him,” said Robben. “He is the most important coach in my career. After the match he did ask me to come to Manchester.”
While van Gaal did nothing to stave off any further speculation with a “he is always welcome” quote, it doesn’t seem likely that an aging Robben would be willing to change his life in Germany for a few short years in Manchester, although his form during the World Cup might suggest he has a more than just a few years left yet.
Robin van Persie, who immediately went to the stand and gave his bronze medal to an eccentric Dutch fan, went on to throw further fuel on the transfer fire with some cryptic messages about possible future Manchester United signings.
He grinned when pressed by journalists and replied with a grin, “I’ll admit that I know a little bit more than you sometimes, but I can’t say anything!”. This would suggest that there are more signings on the way, and also shows how close a bond Van Gaal and his captain Van Persie have.
Louis van Gaal’s arrival into the Premier League is being looked upon as a challenge by many of his peers, as he is widely renowned as one of the most tactically brilliant coaches there is. Along with Ronald Koeman, who takes over Southampton, and whoever Van Gaal brings with him from the Dutch squad, the growing Dutch connection in the Premier League will benefit fans from all walks.
Two days off is all Van Gaal requested before flying to the USA with his new squad. “I hope the group in Manchester will become like this one. We have to sing from the same hymnsheet.” said van Gaal about his new role at Manchester United.
“I hope at Manchester United I can do my best. I will do my best. Whether that’s enough for the fans I will wait and see, but I genuinely hope that will be the case.”
It was not enough to win the World Cup for the Netherlands, but it was certainly enough to convince fans of Netherlands and Manchester United that Van Gaal is a fine coach with plenty of ideas left unshared, and whoever has the good fortune to have him as a coach will benefit.
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