Louis van Gaal: Manager Profile

Looking To Bring Back United’s Glory Days 

Personal information 
Full name: Louis van Gaal
Date of birth: 8 August 1951
Age: 62
Place of birth: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position: Midfielder

Club information 
Current team: Man United

Youth career
RKSV de Meer

Senior career
1972–1973: Ajax 0 Appearances, 0 goals
1973–1977: Royal Antwerp 41 Appearances, 7 goals
1977–1978: Telstar 25 Appearances, 1 goal
1978–1986: Sparta Rotterdam 248 Appearances, 26 goals
1986–1987: AZ 17 Appearances, 0 goals

Teams managed 
1986–1988: AZ (assistant)
1988–1991: Ajax (assistant)
1991–1997: Ajax
1997–2000: Barcelona
2000–2002: Netherlands
2002–2003: Barcelona
2005–2009: AZ
2009–2011: Bayern Munich
2012– Netherlands
2014– Manchester United

As is so often the case with clubs in the market for a new manager, Manchester United opted for a complete change of tact with the appointment of Louis van Gaal.

It’s a far cry from the timid and reserved nature of Moyes, who never truly had control of his United squad at any point over the 10 months of his tenure.

Louis van Gaal will take an iron-cast grip of his players. The Dutch coach has a knack for inspiring loyalty in his playing staff as they fully buy into his tactical mantra.

United need a man like Van Gaal at the helm—a man who is strong and decisive, and one who understands that at the very top end of the game only victory is acceptable.

His methods with the Netherlands at the World Cup demonstrates just how suited he is to the players he will have in his new job. He tailored his approach for the game against Spain, deploying a 3-5-2 formation, which was as pragmatic as it was inventive.

United fans must have watched Holland’s sensational 5-1 win over Spain and pondered how Van Gaal’s system would work at their club. Upon consideration, it could play to the Red Devils’ strengths.

But going on the precedent of his ethos with the Dutch national team, Van Gaal could have different ideas on how to ensure United don’t suffer another season like the one they just endured.

United is a club that prides itself on their willingness to give youth a chance. In the manager’s office at the club’s training ground, a print with the immortal words of Sir Matt Busby—“If you’re good enough, you’re old enough”—hangs on the wall.

He has placed his faith in youth at this World Cup, particularly at the back, where Daley Blind, Bruno Martins Indi and Daryl Janmaat have little in the way of significant top-level experience.

Furthermore, those young players have so far repaid their manager, performing well above expectations. He has a knack for recognising potential, as he has proved throughout his illustrious career.

Apart from anything else, Van Gaal’s Holland side is entertaining, which will be refreshing after the generally turgid football brought to United by Moyes.

Old Trafford has missed the chaos their team used to generate. Ferguson’s style of play couldn’t be defined as clearly as that of Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho, but it was chaotic, especially on the occasion United needed a late goal.

That chaos looks set to return under Van Gaal. The man himself provided something of an insight into his footballing philosophy back in 2008, when he was manager of AZ Alkmaar.

“A coach always has to find a way to win. My philosophy is to attack, always attack – to win by attacking your opponent on the pitch. I believe you should always entertain the public.”

Van Gaal's extensive knowledge of European football will hugely benefit United, who suffered tactical and technical torment under Moyes.

His experience in managing huge clubs, like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, will aid the recovery process for the fallen north-west giants and give the club a philosophical blueprint for the long-term future of the team.

United have already signed Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao and Luke Shaw from Southampton respectively for Van Gaal, with the promise of more to come.

Moyes was left scratching around on deadline day and ended up paying more than he should have for Marouane Fellaini.

Not only has Louis van Gaal, Moyes' replacement as manager of Manchester United, been handed a more comfortable start to his first season at Old Trafford, but he's also managed to sign two of Moyes' targets without even setting foot in the manager's office at Carrington.

Moyes was given Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in his first five games. Van Gaal got Swansea, Sunderland, Burnley, Queens Park Rangers and Leicester.

But it's not just luck and circumstance that separate the two. The World Cup is evidence of that, if any were needed. Just as United fans will be looking forward to seeing Shaw and Herrera, they will have been excited to see just what kind of manager they have appointed.

Van Gaal, meanwhile, had seen his Netherlands team go behind three times at the World Cup in Brazil. But each time they found a way to win. It's the fine margins that count for a lot at the highest level.

But amid all the excitement of "war chests" and "come-and-get-me please," United might have already made their most significant signing. And he won't kick one ball next season.