Belfast Telegraph

It's all or nothing for Manchester United's fiery Louis Van Gaal

By Matt McGeehan

Louis van Gaal dug out a favourite old phrase of his to remind his Manchester United players they will be fighting for their lives when they face Yeovil in the FA Cup tomorrow.

"It is death or the gladioli" said the United manager when asked to sum up the third round match against League One's bottom side at Huish Park.

Dutch road cyclist Gerrie Knetemann is thought to have coined the phrase in the 1970s and 1980s as the winner of Tour de France stages received a bouquet of gladiolus flowers.

Others believe it dates back to Roman times when gladiators who killed their opponents also received flowers.

Regardless of its origins, in layman's terms the phrase means one thing - "all or nothing," Van Gaal explains.

"You are dead or you receive the gladiolus flower. In cup matches it's always like that."

Van Gaal has won three domestic cups during his managerial career, but it has not always been a rosy picture for the 63-year-old when it comes to knock-out competitions.

In 1996 Van Gaal experienced one of the most embarrassing results of his career in the KNVB Cup when his Ajax team lost to second division SC Cambuur.

During Van Gaal's ill-fated second spell at Barcelona, a team of internationals were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by third tier side Novelda in front of just 5,500 spectators.

That defeat was so painful for Van Gaal that he has consigned any memory of it to the dustbin

"I cannot remember anymore. It is wiped out of my mind," he said. "But I do remember the criticism was very high after."

Belfast Telegraph


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