Louis van Gaal, 62, has been installed as the favorite to replace David Moyes as the manager of Manchester United. David Moyes was at the world’s biggest soccer team for under a year. He was fired on April 22 after a showdown with the team’s chief executive Edward Woodward. Manchester United are on course for their worst ever season in the history of the EPL. If appointed, van Gaal wouldn’t take charge of the team until after the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. United’s long-serving player Ryan Giggs will take over as coach for the team’s remaining regular season games.
Here’s what you need to know about van Gaal:
1. Van Gaal is a Complicated Guy
He’s a proponent of fluid attacking soccer. Like many Dutch coaches, van Gaal was educated in the philosophy of “Total Football.” His methods are known to be complex with some players struggling to adapt to his systems.
2. He’ll be at the World Cup in Brazil
Van Gaal will manage the Dutch national team through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil having been in the job since 2012. In qualifying, van Gaal’s Holland team won nine of their ten games, tying the other one. His assistants with the Dutch team are legendary players Danny Blind and Patrick Kluivert. This is the second time that van Gaal has been Holland’s manager. In 2001, his first spell ended in disappointment when his star-studded team failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup after a loss to Ireland in qualifying.
3. Van Gaal Was Nothing Special as a Player
He had a pretty unspectacular playing career. Having been educated at Ajax Amsterdam in the art of “Total Football,” he spent time playing in Belgium and spent his later career back in Holland with AZ. Eventually, he became an assistant coach at AZ. After impressing there, he moved on to Ajax to become an assistant. When the team’s head coach Leo Beenhakker left, van Gaal was appointed to the top job.
4. Van Gaal’s Finest Hour Was in 1995
Arguably his most successful period as a coach came while he was with Ajax in the 1990s. The team dominated the domestic game in Holland throughout his reign. During the 1994-95 season, the team went the entire season unbeaten. That same year Ajax won the biggest prize in club soccer when they beat AC Milan 1-0 to win the European Champions League. The winning goal was scored by van Gaal’s now-assistant coach, Patrick Kluivert. The team that day were nearly all brought through Ajax’s famed youth academy. Players like Edwin van der Saar, Frank de Boer and Clarence Seedorf went on to become some of the greatest players in Europe over he next 15 years.
5. Van Gaal’s Last Club Job Ended in Failure
His last big job in club soccer was with Bayern Munich. He was with the German giants from 2009-2011. His only successes with the team came in 2010 when he won the German championship and cup. Bayern lost out though in the European Cup final to Inter Milan who were managed by one of van Gaal’s former protege Jose Mourinho. One of the key moments in van Gaal’s career at the club was when he feuded with star player Luca Toni. The feud led to the Italian striker moving to Roma. During his time at Bayern, van Gaal brought through many of Germany’s premier soccer stars such as Thomas Muller, Holger Badstuber and Bastian Schweinsteiger.