Tag Archives: Louis van Gaal

How a Belgian ‘ugly duckling’ became a swan for Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United.

As his second season at the club is drawing to a close, Manchter United, now seem to have worked out how to make Marouane Fellaini a star.

As his second season at the club is drawing to a close, Manchter United, now seem to have worked out how to make Marouane Fellaini a star.

It’s surely one of the greatest unofficial accolades that the game has to offer. No-one votes for it, not the press, not other players, not even the fans. Someone somewhere suggests it, and off it trots merrily making its way through the highways and byways of ‘football talk’. Eventually, it’s travelled the length and breadth of the football community, by common assent it becomes accepted as part of the lexicon of football. I’m talking about having an element of the game named after you. There’s the Panenka penalty, the Cruyff turn, the Makelele role and even Fergie time, to name but a few of the uncontentious – well, fairy uncontentious anyway – ones. Now, another nom de guerre may be seeking to elbow its way into the language of football. At the moment, there’s only the merest whisper of it being circulated. Isn’t that how it always begins though? Continue reading →

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Giving up the ghost!

A little harsh perhaps, but for my version of 'A Christmas Carol' Ed Woodward is cast as Scrooge.

A little harsh perhaps, but for my version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ Ed Woodward is cast as Scrooge.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, or so they say. For some however, it doesn’t quite work out like that. In a story particularly popular at this time of year, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by a number of ghosts. Each has a cautionary tale to tell about how things need to change if a particularly unpleasant outcome is to be avoided. Well, seeing as it’s panto season as well, I’ve decided to take the plunge and offer my football-inspired version of A Christmas Carol.

To be sure, Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman of Manchester United is no miser. Well, not as far as I’m aware anyway, and his largesse in the transfer market probably bears that out. For the purpose of my particular interpretation of Dickens’ famous tale however, I am compelled to cast Ed in the role as Ebenezer Scrooge. Apologies requested in advance. Continue reading →

Louis van Gaal and the Class of ’97.

Van Gaal at the Camp Nou

Van Gaal at the Camp Nou

If you were asked to produce a list of the managers who have left a major mark on football, who would be on the list? Ferguson? Almost certainly. Wenger? Probably. Mourinho? Ancelotti? Arguably. Some may even reach back a little further in time, and pull out Rinus Michels as a name. There’s a case to be made for all of the above.

Some, such as Michels with his ‘totaal voetball’ have done so with tactical innovation. Others, such as Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger in English football, can claim to have dominated for a while. The likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti have broken barriers with winning Champions League trophies with different clubs, building winning squads again and again. Very few however could lay claim to have influenced so many future high-profile managers, in such a short period of time, as Louis van Gaal did in his spell at Barcelona between 1997 and 2000. Continue reading →

The poisoned chalice of being the man that follows the man.

Moyes - Manchester united

With the new season just around the corner, and a new man at the helm at Old Trafford, it seemed an appropriate time to reprise an article I produced around the turn of the year talking of the difficulties that Davis Moyes was facing, and would face moving on as he sought to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. It also discussed that if Moyes was moved on, the next manager in line may have an easier ride. It turned out to be quite prescient.

Continue reading →

Penalties, Dutch courage and what might have been…

tim krul penalty save

Yes, I know a lot of people will say things like ‘You say that now…’ but you’re going to have to either believe me or not, I guess. It is true however that Louis van Gaal’s goalkeeper substitution shenanigans in the World Cup quarter final over the weekend brought back memories of another penalty shoot-out some twenty-four years ago, and an outlandish suggestion I made at the time. Continue reading →