Van Gaal back as Oranje coach for third time; “Completely understands” why KNVB turned to him
Louis van Gaal said he understands why the Dutch football association, KNVB, approached him for a third term as the men’s national coach. "I saw the need for it," said the 70-year-old Amsterdammer during a press conference in Zeist. "Who else should do it?"
Van Gaal is back after five years without a club or national team. He has not lost a bit of his confidence. And people should not think that the former coach of Ajax, FC Barcelona, AZ, Bayern Munich and Manchester United has returned to Oranje for his own ego, he repeatedly emphasized in a well-filled room at the KNVB complex in Zeist.
It’s a “big gamble” he told reporters of his decision to take the job. "Because now I'm a good trainer," he said. "I have the support of the people. Look at all the polls. But what if we lose? I'm doing this for Dutch football. I owe a lot to that, such as my current status."
The Dutch national team will resume World Cup qualification at the beginning of September with three matches, against Norway, Montenegro and Turkey. The Oranje squad is now second in the group, 1 point behind Turkey, and as many points as Norway and Montenegro. Only the group winner qualifies directly for the World Cup at the end of next year in Qatar. The number 2 team will get a second chance in a play-off round.
Van Gaal is in a time crunch. "I have a day and a half for the game against the Norwegians and another day and a half for the game with Montenegro. I am a process coach. Players have to get used to the Van Gaal regime. We don't have that time, so it has to be different."
"Normally I start with a discussion in the round," said Van Gaal. "And I often have these players come to my hotel room one by one for an audience. But that is also not possible. I have already spoken to five players, because I must of course know what they think of me.” He said he will not kill himself trying to do something that is impossible.
During the talks with the five, Van Gaal did not get the impression that the group of players preferred a different national coach. "Although that was in the media last time after the departure of Ronald Koeman," said Van Gaal, who is taking over as Frank de Boer's successor. "They were pleasant conversations. Sometimes for an hour. Three players said that there was a need for clarity."
Van Gaal has gotten the impression that the Oranje players want to play again with four defenders and three attackers. "Logically, because they have been doing that since they were pupils," he said. "But I am thin in keepers and wingers. And those are the building blocks of the 1-4-3-3 system. I always listen to the players, but I look at the qualities of ourselves and the opponent and I tailor a system."
With his provisional selection for the triptych in the World Cup qualification, Van Gaal has mainly opted for fit players. "Only one player has not played 90 minutes in a row," he said. "That's Donyell Malen. So it's not [the Van Gaal crew’s] choice to select him. But I also need strikers and goals. Otherwise we won't win."
Reporting by ANP