Louis van Gaal adamant he can juggle two jobs at once
Dutchman has already handed United a list of transfer targets to work on, including Arjen Robben
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal during a training session at the team’s Hoenderloo base in the Netherlands yesterday. The squad are due to fly to Portugal next week to continue their World Cup preparations. Photograph: Koen van Weel/EPA
Louis van Gaal is adamant that he can juggle two jobs at once despite the distraction that his impending appointment as Manchester United manager could have on the Netherlands’ World Cup campaign. The Dutchman says he “can manage the situation” and has already handed the club a list of transfer targets to work on while he focuses on his national team duties.
United are taking instructions from the Netherlands about when they should make an official proclamation that they have appointed Van Gaal as David Moyes’ permanent successor.
The club have agreed to delay the announcement until there is a rest day for the national team, which means Sunday is the earliest United could finally confirm his appointment. If not Sunday, then it could be Monday as that is also a rest day for the Holland squad before they fly to Portugal to continue their World Cup preparations.
Asked how important it is that his concentration is solely on the Netherlands, Van Gaal said: “I have invested a lot of time in this, so you can imagine how very important [the World Cup] is for me and the players. I’ve been in football for 40 years. In three months I’m 63. So I can manage the situation.”
He added: “You keep focused because of the training sessions, because of the team meetings and the tactical meetings. And because of the passion of the players that play at the world championships. It is always the case that we want to be focused on the competition.”
Van Gaal has given Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, an A, B and C list of desired players. The prime potential acquisitions include Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben, who does not take his place in the Netherlands’ squad until after Saturday’s German Cup final, the winger’s club team-mate Thomas Müller, an attacking midfielder, and the Borussia Dortmund central defender, Mats Hummels. Van Gaal has also approved Southampton’s Luke Shaw and Bayern’s Toni Kroos, who were identified as transfer targets during Moyes’ tenure.
Yesterday Van Gaal’s Netherlands squad were joined by their captain, United’s Robin van Persie, who missed a large part of the later section of the Premier League season due to the knee injury he suffered after scoring a hat-trick in the second-leg Champions League last-16 victory over Olympiakos.
Although Van Persie returned before the end of the season – he played for more than an hour in last weekend’s draw at Southampton – Van Gaal does not believe the 30-year-old is 100 per cent. “What I think is that Robin is not fit yet but I hope he is fit when we start the tournament in Brazil,” said the coach. “We have a phenomenon in [Dutch] skating, that skaters injured or ill for six months become the world champions. We hope that it will also be the same with Van Persie. Then I’ll be the trainer-coach of the world champions.”
Asked what the Netherlands can achieve at the finals, the 62-year-old said: “We are going to fight for the world championship. Can we go all the way? We will go for it.”
Dirk Kuyt, the Dutch forward, believes Van Gaal will make a success of managing United. “He is very well suited for any top team in England or any top team in the world,” he said. “But I’m very glad he’s here at the moment.”
Kuyt offered an insight into Van Gaal. “Of course I enjoy working with him. Everyone knows that our coach from the national team is a very experienced coach,” he said.
“He’s very passionate about football [and] a winner. He always wants to win trophies and always wants to make his players better and I can assume he is the kind of coach who will do that in every team he is working at.”