Louis van Gaal - There's Method in the Madness

Discussion in 'Tottenham forum' started by Harrison, April 8, 2014.

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  1. Harrison New Member

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    Blunt, arrogant, self-opinionated, mad, genius: Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal is all of these and more. If the Dutchman joins Spurs in the summer, life at The Lane promises not to be dull. Van Gaal may be one of the few coaches to make Mourinho seem like a shrinking violet.

    The former school teacher has an impressive list of achievements at club level from his time at Ajax, Barcelona, AZ and Bayern. Seven domestic titles, five domestic cups, two Uefa Cups and The Champions League are among the 19 honours on his cv.

    No wonder Spurs are interested.

    His success has been built on innovation, hard work, unshakeable self-belief and discipline amongst other things. The cv appears testament to his methods. Yet there is of course the madness.
    The Madness
    To be honest when the first LvG rumours surfaced I was sceptical. The madness stories are always going to grab headlines. It made you wonder how on earth he could work with Levy. How the media would be handled. More importantly how would the players.

    There were spats with Rivaldo; the spats with the Spanish/Catalan press. The sarcasm, the tirades [the diatribe after Bayern won the Bundesliga]. There is the ego, stubbornness, the abrasiveness. The story on how he showed Luca Toni he had the balls to drop him [literally].

    As van Gaal says “I am who I am”. Scratch the surface and this seems more a man who does not suffer fools [and thinks most journalists are] or players who think they are bigger than the team and the team is essential to his philosophy.

    The Philosophy - The Collective [Collectief]
    "Football is a team sport, and the members of the team are therefore dependent on each other. If certain players do not carry out their tasks properly on the pitch, then their colleagues will suffer. This means that each player has to carry out his basic tasks to the best of his ability, and this requires a disciplined approach on the pitch. In my opinion this can only be achieved if there is discipline off the pitch."

    Discipline on and off the pitch appears to be one of the underlying principles of van Gaal teams. Players must toe the line or they will be side-lined as the likes of Rivaldo and Luca Toni have found to their cost. “There has to be absolute discipline and mutual understanding. Discipline is the basis of creativity and flexibility.”

    For van Gaal communication is essential to achieve this

    "In football, everything depends on the team aspect. It is therefore important that each player knows what the others can and can't do. You have to discover each other's skills, and this automatically leads to a good mutual understanding, which is the basis for the result. All players have to learn to put the team first."

    Conceivably Van Gaal’s perception is that this interaction underpins the team building ethos, this mutual understanding. For van Gaal, the team [as opposed to say Cruyff’s belief in individuality and freedom of expression on the pitch] is everything and is the core for what happens on the pitch.

    The Dutchman is not an advocate of any particular formation – rather the formations appear selected more for the players at his disposal. However, each of his teams arguably has had similarities in style and ethos - all based on his philosophy of team work, discipline, organisation and understanding.

    Possession: Keep the ball, pass the ball. Pull the opposition out of position to create space for the team. Control the pace of the game.

    Movement: Continuous movement of players with its basis in Ajax’s totaalvoetbal. The understanding that if a player vacates a position, his place is taken by another so there are always options open to play and receive the ball and again keep possession. The constant movement again designed to pull the opposition out of place.

    Pressing: The work without the ball is another mark of a van Gaal teams to win the ball back by pressuring from front to back.

    Game Intelligence: The requirements for a van Gaal team, the discipline would suggest that van Gaal sets great store in intelligence in his players, their appreciation of space – especially in the deep lying playmaker role which is perhaps pivotal to van Gaal teams. This is perhaps also seen in his preference for at least one ball playing centre back that can bring the ball out of defence.

    Does any of this sound familiar? “Tiki Taka”? Barcelona and Bayern perhaps? Can van Gaal lay claim to laying the foundations at both clubs in his spells there? With Pep Guardiola [made Barcelona captain by LvG] citing his influence it may be no wonder the Spaniard has been picked by both clubs to build on the Dutchman’s foundations. There may have been some stages in between but considering the ethos, the influence at both is clear to see.

    Van Gaal believes in attacking football, in fluid, creative, attractive football. He appears to believe strongly in wingers [e.g. Findi George, Overmars, Ribery, Robben]. His philosophy, his ethos of possession, movement, pressing, intelligence is seen as crucial as the foundation for attacking play.


    It has been reported that Van Gaal has said he could work with players in the Spurs squad. This is no surprise. In general van Gaal has not been one for big money transfers [Levy may want him for that alone!]. There may be a simple reason for this. Louis van Gaal appears adamant he can improve any player who plays for him. The Dutchman is also a firm believer in giving youth a chance – perhaps because they appear more likely buy into his philosophy and become better players than the been there, seen it, done it pros].

    The list of players he has given team debuts too include:

    Xavi [18], Iniesta [18], Valdes [18], Puyol [21], Thomas Muller [19], Badstuber [19], Alaba [18], Edgar Davids [18], Seedorf [16] and Van der Saar [21] amongst others.

    It’s an impressive list.

    The announcement Sherwood’s position would be reviewed at the end of the season just before the Sunderland game seemed odd timing initially. However, may this have been quite smart by Levy? Several other clubs are rumoured to hold an interest in van Gaal. Is Levy [as far as he can] sending a public message to the Dutchman? The message may also be intended for the players.

    With Lloris, Holtby and Vertonghen said to be considering their options and rumoured dressing room discontent, the announcement should have now given players food for thought about staying [rather than be too late come the end of season].

    Van Gaal’s commitment to attacking play should revive echoes of the Spurs style whilst the discipline, organisation and structure demanded by the Dutchman should help cut out the sloppy mistakes seen this season. At a player level Spurs have a number of players of 25 years or under. Van Gaal’s ability to bring out the best and improve these players should only be a benefit – including potentially the likes of Kane, Carroll and Townsend.

    In Eriksen and Vertonghen we already have players raised in Ajax/van Gaal traditions [it is possible to see Vertonghen as the ball carrying centre half that LvG utilises]. In Sigurdsson [in a Jari Litmanen type role?] and Holtby you perhaps have players who can keep possession, play the pass, and who have that work ethic to press. In Townsend there is the winger so prevalent in van Gaal teams, but who perhaps would benefit from the discipline in improving his on-pitch decision making.

    There have been notable conflicts with players in the past though and how van Gaal and Adebayor would match up may be uncertain, especially if egos clash and there have been questions over whether van Gaal has issues with Brazilian players – such as Giovanni’s comment “The Hitler of Brazilian players”.

    However, if Louis van Gaal came to Spurs it should be seen as a major coup. Despite the mad moments, the ego, the Dutchman is a coach of outstanding ability that has influenced the likes of Guardiola and Bielsa and produced some of, and laid the initial foundations for, some of the best teams seen.

    If, he comes to Spurs, Levy needs to be realistic. Things may not turn around in 6 months or longer. Time and patience is required. Then if it works, there could be the foundation for long term success [if the coaches following have the same ethos]. Time, patience, continuity.

    If it works, it may work very well indeed.
  2. Mattj78

    Mattj78 Well-Known Member

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    I certainly echo your point that LVG has some great credentials, and could be a good fit for spurs. My worry is still levy. He hasn't given managers much time in the last 13 years, so why will it be different this time. Only time will tell but levy cannot get it wrong again
  3. Felon82 Well-Known Member

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    Get LVG in asap else were gona look like proper mugs if hes unveiled at UTD, its about time we installed a no noncence proven winner.
  4. Gruers New Member

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    Another new dawn, how many have we had?
  5. notnats

    notnats Well-Known Member

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    LVG in, no brainer. he has a history of building teams with the squad he's given and also building the foundations for success. A few people have concerns about LVG, he's too old, levy wont give him the time, he's only after a payday ( ridiculous he could go somewhere much easier and for more money ) any argument that LVG will only be around a few years, 3 - 4 maybe and that we prefer someone younger for the long term is a fair call but really what is it that this club needs at this time ? For me this club is in disarray and as a result our best players will be running for the exit doors at end of season. this club needs a serious shake up on and off the pitch and someone who can bring stability and build those foundations first. we talk about a manager that can handle Levy, im not sure there's many young managers out there that can do the business on and off the pitch and can also stand up to Levy. LVG may not be the long term solution but if he leaves after 3 - 4 years and the club is stronger and in a better state than the one its in right now then maybe he's worth the risk.
  6. Felon82 Well-Known Member

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    And isnt this the problem? Levy!
    what sort of chairman should you have to 'battle' with in order to do your job properly? In any form of work you need backing or a good rapor with your boss to be succesfull. Levy wants to be the iron ruler the silent dictator but has proven time and again he is the thorn in the side
  7. notnats

    notnats Well-Known Member

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    Everyone is accountable to someone, the manager whoever that will be will be accountable to Levy, and Levy will be accountable to the board. the question is does that someone have the balls to stand up to Levy and demand a certain amount of autonamy from the go, someone who knows how to run a big club. well we know LVG has the balls and he's not afraid to show them.
  8. TerryMcC New Member

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    Great article, well researched and written.
  9. bigfran

    bigfran Member

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    Not for me this one. LvG is a CV manager and the last thing we need is an ego with only two or three years left how is he gonna manage a five to ten year project which is what is sorely needed. Look at the success Liverpool Everton are having with vibrant charismatic young tactically sound managers are having. My choice would be de boer or klopp who play attacking football and promote youth and an eye for talent..

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