Euro 2012 proved one thing for the Dutch team: having good players won’t necessarily win you a game. Bert van Marwijk’s infamous system didn’t work. Neither did the players and their egos. In the end, a humiliating result is what we remember. But, the man who failed at a previous challenge was handed a second chance: the (n)ever modest Louis van Gaal got his dream job.
In 2002, Holland didn’t qualify for the WC in Korea /Japan. A late home goal from Jason MacAteer was decisive enough to eliminate the van Gaal squad. It is still the biggest disappointment in the turbulent life of Louis van Gaal. Indeed, it is the biggest disappointment since the absence of WC 1982, when Spain beat Malta with an incomprehensible 12-1. Holland stayed home because they scored less goals.
Holland is hungry for a victory, since the summer brought with it 4 losses. Prior to the WC qualification match against Turkey, there was an air of pressure. The pressure remains. A lot of people will call for a quick dismissal of van Gaal when positive results will fail to occur. The man who purports to be the charismatic cosmopolitan family man, is more like a high school correction teacher.
For this round of fixtures, international players like De Jong, Van der Vaart, Afellay, van der Wiel have been kicked out the team. It’s thought that they would lack actual playing time, or have a low focus on the national team. In Van Gaal’s point of view, players who move to another country have too much on their mind. One could argue that Nigel de Jong is too busy picking the right curtains for his new house, but I tend to think it is an insult to a grown up professional player. Especially when van Gaal is taking the concept of a player as a total person into consideration.
The manager did not select rising star Adam Maher. “He doesn’t play on the ten, so he is no use for me”, said Gaal, hinting to AZ coach Gert Jan Verbeek that he should use his midfield player in another fashion. Cue angry faces at AZ and bemused faces in the press, who question the profile worshiping of the national head coach. Football correspondent Johan Derksen of Voetbal International has nicknamed him Louis laptop.
He scientifically developed profiles of the ideal player in the way football has to be played. That is, of course, according to Louis the Great. But a few days before his first match as a new manager van Gaal was not faithful to his own philosophy. Van Persie was chosen over Huntelaar. After scoring 3 goals with Manchester United, he had to give in and make for the first time in his coaching life, a decision that did not seem to accord with his philosophy . But the man who can easily pronounce ‘I’ five times in the same sentence, will no doubt point at external factors instead of admitting this.
In selecting 5 new players (Clasie, Martins Indi, Krul and Janmaat made their debut) van Gaal showed courage, but it was merely a gamble. Of course, when you win with young talented players, you can dig up the glory. If not it means a valuable loss of a point on the road to WC qualification. The game against the Turks was a chaotic one. Thanks to experienced players (van Persie, Sneijder and Robben) and Turkish strikers (who wasted some beautiful opportunities given by inexperienced Dutch players) the match was won nervously. But van Gaal will not listen to any comments. Van Gaal only listens to one word or letter: I.
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