Louis van Gaal

Louis van Gaal
Image from: freelargeimages.com

Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal

Current Club/Country: N/A.

Previous Clubs/Countries: Manchester United, Netherlands, Bayern Munich, AZ Alkmaar, Barcelona, Netherlands, Barcelona, Ajax.

Honours: Champions League 1994/95. FA Cup 2015/16. Spanish League 1997/98, 1998/99. Spanish Cup 1997/98. German League 2009/10. German Cup 2009/10. Dutch League 1993/94, 1994/95, 1995/96, 2008/09. Dutch Cup 1992/93. Dutch Super Cup 1993/94, 1994/95, 1995/96. UEFA Cup 1991/92.

His track record of success would suggest he is one of the great managers of recent years, as he has won plenty of trophies, but his actual work would seem less impressive on closer examination. A lot of his success is down to inheriting the right team at the right time. Though that could also be said to be a part of being good is knowing which jobs to take and when, it is made much easier to succeed when you have the right players to work with.

Van Gaal's style of play, in fact everything he gets involved with, is disciplined. That one word sums up his whole style of management, as well as his tactical play. Everything is very rigid and formulaic. He wants a team to follow his instructions to letter, with no deviation or alteration.

Even when it works it tends to be a little unexciting, with its focus on possession leading to a lot of passing around at the back and keep ball passes, rather than the more difficult creative passes. When it is not working, it can be sleep-inducingly boring and lead to teams playing themselves into trouble.

Usually he takes over a team that plays fluent attacking football and gradually they get less fluent and attacking over time. After a season or two of regression he gets the sack and then takes the credit for the trophies won before his style was impressed on the players.

What was noticeable is how much more rigid and inflexible he got as he aged. By the time he was in charge at Man Utd he was lacking in any give or take at all. Everything was robotic and the passion he once showed was gone. That one moment when he showed some passion, copying a diving player, actually gave a flash of what could have been, if he had just allowed himself to show that it mattered to him.

It is not all bad regarding him, van Gaal does have his strengths, not just in organising defensively but also in his willingness to give youth players a chance in the first team. That is his big strength, he was always happy to give youngsters their shot and it often brought him great reward by doing so. It is arguable that his biggest successes were down to that faith he showed in young players.

His legacy is not the trophies he won, though he won plenty, van Gaal's legacy is how many youngsters he gave debuts to and that went on to make a successful career in the game. There are many and it is something he deserves a lot of credit for.

Requested by stuie boy