Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Louis van Gaal: Players must be keen to share my vision

Hot favourite: Louis van Gaal is in line for the Man United job

Holland boss Louis van Gaal, who is the Manchester United manager-elect, has said that his attacking 4-3-3 philosophy is more important than individual talents in his teams and that his first task at any new club is to be sure that players are willing to make their personal ambitions secondary to it.

Van Gaal, who will today hold his first press conference since emerging as the lead contender for the Old Trafford job, is highly likely to be named as David Moyes' successor later this week, though United will not ask him to interrupt his World Cup preparations by leaving the Dutch national camp to mark his appointment.

With the final negotiations revolving around backroom staff, the 62-year-old also made it clear in a Fifa interview filmed five months ago that he only selects captains whom he thinks he can "live with," "click" with and "admire."

Robin van Persie, with whom Van Gaal has developed a close personal friendship over two years in the Dutch camp, is now a stronger contender than Wayne Rooney, who had expected to lead the side before Moyes was sacked last month. Van Gaal made it clear that there is never any room for sentiment in such decisions.

The individual "characteristics" of the captain are "very important for me," said the 60-year-old, whose prospective new employers continue their efforts to secure Southampton's £27m left-back Luke Shaw.

"I choose the captain, not the players. I'm always choosing the captains of my team. I have to live with them and give them more responsibility. I have to admire him also because of his personality, his identity. My captains are very professional, but also very ambitious and honest. You can see these qualities in the captains I have chosen.

"I have to click with my captains. I told Pep (Guardiola at Barcelona), 'You have to be my captain.' He said, 'No, no.' I told him, 'I choose the captain and you understand the game; how I understand the game.'"

Significantly in the context of Ryan Giggs' future United role, Van Gaal said that he would "always want to keep one coach from the existing staff" at a new club.

At Bayern that was Herman Kerland. "I wanted to know who was coming through the youth system – and he is the man who said to me: "Thomas Muller, (Holger) Badstuber and (David) Alaba. These are the players. So I let them train with the first team, I observed them – and then I decided where they were going to play."

The importance of players submitting themselves to Van Gaal's tactical and technical ethos is also vivid in the interview. It is his "philosophy" which has made him a great coach, he said.

"You have to play as a team and not as individuals. That's why I'm always looking for the vision, then the team, and then which players fit my system, a 4-3-3, because I'm always playing that.

"If a young player can do it, then I select him. If it's an older player, it doesn't bother me; it's not the most important factor. Age is not important."

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