Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal is putting pressure on Manchester United to give him the manager’s job before the end of the week. Van Gaal, who will lead out his country at the World Cup in Brazil next month, has made no secret of his desire to manage in the Premier League before he retires, and United top his list.
Before David Moyes was fired by United, van Gaal was expected to replace Tim Sherwood as manager of Tottenham Hotspur. In fact, Dutch soccer legend Ruud Gullit told the media van Gaal’s move to north London was a “done deal” and that the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager would be unveiled soon.
However, once the United manager’s job became vacant, van Gaal made a u-turn and has been touting his services to the Glazer family ever since. He is putting pressure on the Premier League champions, as Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is also on United’s list of candidates. Although van Gaal has reportedly had positive talks with United, his desire to bring in five hand-picked coaches to make up his backroom staff is said to have made the Red Devils feel uneasy. Such a drastic overhaul is said not to sit very well with the United hierarchy.
Yet before van Gaal goes to Old Trafford or anywhere else he has the small matter of trying to win the World Cup and sign of as Netherlands boss on a high. At club level, van Gaal has an enviable record of winning titles in numerous countries as well as the Champions League – a tournament United have only won three times. When it comes to international football, van Gaal has unfinished business. In his first tenure as Netherlands coach, he failed to take his country to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. It was the first time the the Dutch had failed to qualify for the tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Van gaal stepped down and told people he was set to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at United. However, the Scot changed his mind about retirement and instead stayed on at United until May 2013.
Wherever van Gaal ends up, he will want to go there on the back of a good World Cup. In a group with defending champions Spain, plus Australia and Chile the Dutch will be expected to make the knockout stages with relative ease. Chile does have Barcelona Alexi Sanchez, who can win a game with a moment of brilliance. The team will also take heart from the fact the tournament will take place in South America. However, van Gaal is a manager with vast experience managing massive egos at the highest level and so the expectation is there.
Van gaal will be looking to Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben to continue his rich vein of form into the finals, while putting his faith in Manchester United striker Robin van Persie to make a full recovery from a knee injury. Furthermore, the pressure will be on the Dutch to progress from the groups without key midfielder Kevin Strootman who picked up a long-term injury playing for club side Roma.
World Cup Preview is an ongoing column of commentary, news and analysis of the teams and players participating in this year’s World Cup in Brazil
Commentary by Robert Shepherd