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Louis van Gaal

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Title: Louis van Gaal  
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Subject: Netherlands at the FIFA World Cup, Rinus Michels, José Mourinho, Ronald Koeman, Manchester United F.C.
Collection: 1951 Births, 2014 Fifa World Cup Managers, Afc Ajax Managers, Afc Ajax Non-Playing Staff, Afc Ajax Players, Az Alkmaar Managers, Az Alkmaar Players, Belgian Pro League Players, Bundesliga Managers, Directors of Football Clubs in the Netherlands, Dutch Expatriate Football Managers, Dutch Expatriates in England, Dutch Expatriates in Germany, Dutch Expatriates in Spain, Dutch Football Managers, Dutch Footballers, Eredivisie Managers, Eredivisie Players, Expatriate Football Managers in England, Expatriate Football Managers in Germany, Expatriate Football Managers in Spain, Fc Barcelona Managers, Fc Bayern Munich Managers, La Liga Managers, Living People, Manchester United F.C. Managers, Netherlands National Football Team Managers, Officers of the Order of Orange-Nassau, People from Amsterdam, Premier League Managers, Royal Antwerp F.C. Players, Sc Telstar Players, Sparta Rotterdam Players, Uefa Champions League Winning Managers, Uefa Cup Winning Managers
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Louis van Gaal

Louis van Gaal
Van Gaal in 2014
Personal information
Full name Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal
Date of birth (1951-08-08) 8 August 1951
Place of birth Amsterdam, Netherlands
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)[1]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Manchester United (manager)
Youth career
RKSV de Meer
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1972–1973 Ajax 0 (0)
1973–1977 Royal Antwerp 41 (7)
1977–1978 Telstar 25 (1)
1978–1986 Sparta Rotterdam 248 (26)
1986–1987 AZ 17 (0)
Total 331 (34)
Teams managed
1986–1988 AZ (assistant manager)
1988–1991 Ajax (assistant manager)
1991–1997 Ajax
1997–2000 Barcelona
2000–2002 Netherlands
2002–2003 Barcelona
2005–2009 AZ
2009–2011 Bayern Munich
2012–2014 Netherlands
2014– Manchester United

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Aloysius Paulus Maria "Louis" van Gaal, OON (Dutch pronunciation: ;[2] born 8 August 1951), is a Dutch football manager and former player who is the current manager of Manchester United. He was formerly manager of Ajax, Barcelona, AZ, Bayern Munich, and the Netherlands national team. He is one of the most decorated managers in world football.[3]

Before his career as a coach, Van Gaal played as a midfielder for Royal Antwerp, Telstar, Sparta Rotterdam and AZ. He is also a fully qualified physical education teacher and has worked as such at high schools during various stages of his career as a semi-professional footballer.[4]

After a brief spell as coach at AZ, Van Gaal served as assistant coach under Leo Beenhakker at Ajax and eventually took over as head coach in 1991. Under his lead, the club won three Eredivisie titles, the UEFA Cup, and the Champions League. Van Gaal moved to Barcelona in 1997 and won two Spanish league titles and one Copa del Rey. After some disagreements at Barcelona, he was appointed coach of the Netherlands national team, but failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. Another brief spell at Barcelona followed before he became manager of AZ. After winning the Eredivisie with AZ in 2008–09, he was hired by Bayern Munich on 1 July 2009.[5] In his first season at Bayern, he secured the Bundesliga title, won the DFB-Pokal, and reached the final of the Champions League. In July 2012, he was appointed manager of the Netherlands for the second time and led them to third place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, before leaving for Manchester United.


  • Playing and early coaching career 1
  • Management career 2
    • Ajax (1991–1997) 2.1
    • Barcelona (1997–2000) 2.2
    • Netherlands national team (2000–2002) 2.3
    • Return to Barcelona (2002–2003) 2.4
    • Return to Ajax (2004) 2.5
    • AZ (2005–2009) 2.6
    • Bayern Munich (2009–2011) 2.7
    • Return to Netherlands national team (2012–2014) 2.8
    • Manchester United (2014–present) 2.9
  • Personal life 3
  • Career statistics 4
    • Club 4.1
    • Managerial statistics 4.2
  • Honours 5
    • Managerial honours 5.1
      • Club 5.1.1
      • International 5.1.2
    • Awards and achievements 5.2
    • Orders 5.3
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Playing and early coaching career

Van Gaal (r.) against Gullit (Feyenoord), Nov. 1983
Van Gaal in 1988 as assistant manager with Ajax.

Van Gaal was born in Amsterdam. As a youngster, he started playing for the Amsterdam amateur side RKSV 'De Meer'. At the age of 20, he joined the second team of Ajax, but was never chosen to play in the first team, which at the time boasted players such as Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens in the midfield positions. He was loaned to Belgian First Division side Royal Antwerp playing under Guy Thys with whom he was runner-up in the Belgian top division in 1974 and 1975. After four years spent in Belgium, Van Gaal returned to his homeland and made his Eredivisie debut for Telstar under the guidance of manager, Mircea Petescu, whom he followed to Sparta Rotterdam. Van Gaal later joined AZ, where he also became assistant coach in 1986. After a short career at AZ, he returned to Ajax to become Leo Beenhakker's assistant. When Beenhakker left in 1991, Van Gaal took over as manager.[6]

Management career

Ajax (1991–1997)

Van Gaal was Ajax manager from 1991 until 1997 and had a very successful tenure. Under Van Gaal, Ajax became the Eredivisie champions three times, in 1994, 1995 (notably going the entire 1994–95 season unbeaten in both the league and the Champions League) and 1996.[7] He also led Ajax to the KNVB Cup in 1993 and the Johan Cruijff Shield in 1993, 1994, and 1995. On the European scene, Ajax captured the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the UEFA Champions League in 1995 after beating Milan in the final. The latter win was followed by a 5–1 aggregate win over Real Zaragoza in the 1995 UEFA Super Cup. Late in 1995, Ajax beat Brazilian side Grêmio on penalties to win the Toyota Cup (formerly Intercontinental Cup). Ajax were also Champions League runners-up in 1996 after losing to Juventus on penalties.

Ajax was so successful under Van Gaal's leadership that during the 1990s, the Dutch national team was dominated by Ajax players such as Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank and Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Winston Bogarde, Michael Reiziger, and Edwin van der Sar.

After serving out his contract at Ajax (1997), Van Gaal received his knighthood in the Order of Orange-Nassau.[8]

Barcelona (1997–2000)

He moved to Barcelona in 1997, taking over from Bobby Robson, and helped the team win two league championships (1997–98, 1998–99) and the Copa del Rey once.[7] Despite this success, he clashed with the media and came under criticism. Van Gaal expressed that it was difficult to implement his football philosophy at Barcelona due to cultural differences, and that he struggled hard as some players were unwilling to follow his lead.[9] His rows with Rivaldo are an example of this: Van Gaal insisted Rivaldo play as a left winger, whereas Rivaldo argued that he wanted to play in the centre, in effect undermining van Gaal.[10]

Van Gaal eventually left the Catalan side on 20 May 2000,[9] days after losing the league title to Deportivo de La Coruña, uttering the immortal line: "Amigos de la prensa. Yo me voy. Felicidades." (Friends of the press. I am leaving. Congratulations.)[6] He returned to the Netherlands to manage the Dutch national team in preparation for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Netherlands national team (2000–2002)

Under Van Gaal, the Netherlands started their campaign to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup poorly. Placed in Group 2, an injury-hit side could only manage to secure a late 2–2 draw at home to the Republic of Ireland, having been 2–0 down with 20 minutes to go.[11] A 4–0 win over Cyprus was followed by a 2–0 defeat to Portugal, though the team went on to defeat Spain 2–1 in a friendly at the end of the year.

In 2001, the Netherlands beat Andorra, Cyprus and Estonia, but despite leading group leaders Portugal 2–0 with seven minutes left, drew 2–2 and fell three points behind second-place Ireland, who were unbeaten. When the sides met in Dublin, Van Gaal boasted before the match that his squad was so much more talented, even the Irish fans would want them to qualify. Ireland went down to 10 men after 58 minutes but scored 9 minutes later and won 1–0. The Netherlands fell seven points behind them with two games left to play, meaning that they failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.[12] Van Gaal stepped down as manager on 31 January 2002 to be replaced by Dick Advocaat. After this, speculation began that Van Gaal would succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United once Ferguson claimed he would retire that year. According to Van Gaal, Ferguson decided against retiring and the deal fell through.[13]

Return to Barcelona (2002–2003)

Van Gaal returned to Barcelona for the start of the 2002–03 season on a contract until June 2005, but results were inconsistent. The club won a record-equalling ten successive matches in the Champions League but struggled in La Liga. After four wins, four draws and three defeats from their opening 11 league matches, Barcelona lost three matches in a row, to Real Sociedad, relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano and Sevilla. Two wins and a draw improved things but after successive defeats to Valencia and Celta de Vigo, he left by mutual consent on 28 January 2003 with the club in 12th place, just three points above the relegation zone and 20 points behind leaders Real Sociedad.[6]

His transfers, particularly the signings of goalkeeper Robert Enke, midfielder Gaizka Mendieta and playmaker Juan Román Riquelme, all disappointed.[14] Riquelme had been bought to replace Rivaldo, whom Van Gaal had released on a free transfer despite having a year left on his contract. The two had fallen out during Van Gaal's previous tenure and after Van Gaal returned, Rivaldo said: "Van Gaal is the main cause of my departure. I don't like Van Gaal, and I am sure that he doesn't like me, either."[15] Van Gaal replied that Rivaldo's lack of commitment was the reason he was released, saying that he "was only interested in making more money and playing less. He was chosen as the best player in 1999, but he has not handled himself well since then and has not behaved like a footballer should. He had illusions about Barca and was requesting to take holidays when important Champions League games were approaching. He then hides back home in Brazil. He plays for Brazil like we needed him to at Barcelona, and he has proved this in the World Cup finals, showing he reserved himself for Japan."[16] Rivaldo joined A.C. Milan and won that season's Champions League.

Return to Ajax (2004)

In 2004, he returned to Ajax as a technical director, but resigned later that year due to an internal conflict with Ronald Koeman.[17][18]

AZ (2005–2009)

Van Gaal with AZ.

In January 2005, it was announced that he would replace Co Adriaanse as AZ manager on 1 July 2005.[19][20] Under Van Gaal, AZ finished second in the Eredivisie in 2005–06 and third in 2006–07. Van Gaal also led AZ to a runners-up finish in the 2006–07 KNVB Cup and lost a 2007–08 UEFA Champions League qualification play-off to Ajax 4–2 on aggregate.

Van Gaal initially announced he would leave AZ at the end of the 2007–08 season due to disappointing results, with the club finishing 11th in the Eredivisie.[21] However, when several players of the AZ squad pointed out that they would like him to stay with AZ, Van Gaal said he would give the players a chance to prove themselves.

AZ started the 2008–09 season with two losses: 2–1 to NAC Breda and 0–3 to ADO Den Haag, but after that the Alkmaar-based club remained unbeaten until 18 April, topping the table ahead of FC Twente and Ajax for the entire season, despite being predicted to finish as low as 13th by pundits.[22] AZ had the best defensive record in the Eredivisie and the second-best goalscoring record, behind Ajax, thanks to its offensive duo of league topscorer Mounir El Hamdaoui and Brazilian Ari. They were crowned league champions on 19 April, one day after AZ suffered an unexpected loss at home to Vitesse, which ended a string of 28 unbeaten games (surpassing the team's 1980–81 record of 25 unbeaten games). That same day Ajax, the only opponent still in theory able to surpass AZ, lost 6–2 to PSV.[23][24]

Bayern Munich (2009–2011)

Van Gaal and FC Bayern players celebrating their Bundesliga victory in 2010.

On 1 July 2009, Van Gaal took over as coach of Bayern Munich.[25][26] Van Gaal referred to his new employer as a "dream club". On 28 August 2009, Van Gaal strengthened his team by signing compatriot Arjen Robben from Real Madrid; this reunited the two, with Van Gaal selecting Robben for his debut in the Netherlands U20 team.[27][28][29]

Van Gaal got off to a poor start as Bayern coach, winning only one of his first four matches in charge, and by November the club was on the brink of a first-round Champions League exit following two losses to Bordeaux. With Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the Bundesliga, speculation was rampant that Van Gaal was on the brink of a departure from Bayern even earlier than his predecessor Jürgen Klinsmann. Van Gaal, however, kept insisting he is a prozesstrainer meaning that his team needs time to play the way he imagines.[30]

Van Gaal installed many youth players as fixtures in the starting 11, including Thomas Müller and Holger Badstuber, and also converted the winger Bastian Schweinsteiger into a defensive midfielder. A feud with Italian striker Luca Toni, who had played an important role in Bayern's 2007–08 league and cup double, led to Toni's move to Roma. However, Bayern Munich's form improved with two Champions League victories including an impressive 4–1 victory over Juventus in Turin, which allowed them to progress from their group in second position behind Bordeaux. By March, Bayern had moved to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal and were top of the Bundesliga ahead of Leverkusen.

On 8 May 2010, FC Bayern were crowned Bundesliga champions following a 3–1 win at Hertha BSC,[31] making Van Gaal the first ever Dutch coach to win the Bundesliga.[32] On 15 May 2010, Bayern won the DFB-Pokal with a 4–0 victory over SV Werder Bremen, thus securing the domestic double.[33]

In the Champions League, Bayern won 4–4 on the

  • Official website (Dutch)
  • Profile and stats at Voetbal International (Dutch)
  • CV Louis van Gaal (Dutch)
  • Van Gaal: My football philosophy, from
  • Profile and stats on RAFC History

External links

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  2. ^ Van in isolation is pronounced .
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  44. ^ a b "Van Gaal returns to Dutch hot-seat". FIFA. 6 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
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  49. ^ Sanghera, Mandeep (18 June 2014). "Australia 2–3 Netherlands".  
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See also


Awards and achievements



Bayern Munich


Managerial honours


Team From To Record
G W D L Win % Ref.
Ajax 28 September 1991 30 June 1997 285 196 49 40 68.77
Barcelona 1 July 1997 20 May 2000[88] 171 95 32 44 55.56
Netherlands 3 July 2000[89] 1 February 2002[90] 15 8 4 3 53.33
Barcelona 1 July 2002[91] 28 January 2003[92] 30 16 5 9 53.33
AZ Alkmaar 1 July 2005 30 June 2009 176 102 38 36 57.95
Bayern Munich 1 July 2009[26] 10 April 2011[43] 96 59 18 19 61.46 [93]
Netherlands 6 July 2012[44] 12 July 2014[52] 28 17 9 2 60.71
Manchester United 16 July 2014[54] Present 62 33 16 13 53.23
Total 854 518 171 165 60.66
As of 31 October 2015

Managerial statistics

Club Season League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ajax 1971–72 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1972–73 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Royal Antwerp 1973–74 9 2 3 0 12 2
1974–75 3 0 6 2 9 2
1975–76 19 4 2 2 4 0 25 6
1976–77 10 1 1 0 11 1
Total 41 7 12 4 4 0 57 11
Telstar 1977–78 25 1 - - 25 1
Total 25 1 0 0 0 0 25 1
Sparta Rotterdam 1978–79 31 5 - - 31 5
1979–80 33 1 - - 33 1
1980–81 33 5 - - 33 5
1981–82 24 1 - - 24 1
1982–83 33 5 - - 33 5
1983–84 34 2 - - 6 0 40 2
1984–85 30 4 3 0 33 4
1985–86 31 3 - - 4 0 35 3
Total 248 26 3 0 10 0 261 26
AZ 1986–87 17 0 - - 17 0
Total 17 0 0 0 0 0 17 0
Career totals 331 34 15 4 14 0 360 38


Career statistics

On 19 March 2015, Van Gaal revealed that he would be retiring after his spell at Manchester United ends.[87]

According to The Daily Telegraph it emerged in 2009 that Van Gaal had lost millions of pounds investing in fraudster Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.[86]

In 2008, he married his current wife, Truus, with whom he shares a holiday home near Albufeira in the Portuguese Algarve.[85]

The youngest of nine brothers and sisters, Van Gaal was brought up as a Catholic. His father, a salesman, died when Van Gaal was 11. Van Gaal's first wife, Fernanda, with whom he had two daughters, Brenda and Renate, died of pancreatic cancer in 1994.[84]

Personal life

Manchester United started the 2015-16 Premier League with two 1-0 wins, against Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa. It was followed by a 3-1 win over Club Brugge in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier. United then drew 0-0 against Newcastle United and won 4-0 against Club Brugge in the second leg of Champions League qualifier, meaning an aggregate score of 7-1. United then faced Swansea City in the Premier League and lost 2-1, followed by wins against Liverpool F.C.(3-1), Southampton F.C.(3-2) and Sunderland AFC(3-0) which, due to Manchester City's defeat to Tottenham, left them top of the table, 110 weeks since they had last been there at the end of a game week. In the Champions League group stage, United lost 2-1 to PSV Eindhoven before winning 2-1 against VFL Wolfsburg.

During the summer transfer window, van Gaal strengthened his squad by bringing in Memphis Depay from Southampton F.C., Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich and Anthony Martial from AS Monaco.

In his first season, Van Gaal led Manchester United to a fourth-place finish, three places and six points higher than the previous season.[83]

On 4 February 2015, Van Gaal was charged by The Football Association over comments he made about the referee, saying "Every aspect of a match is against us – the pitch, the referee" during United's goalless draw with Cambridge United.[77] After a requested hearing with the FA, Van Gaal was cleared of his charges, but was warned of future conduct.[78] On 8 February, Van Gaal was criticised by West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce for his long ball tactics after the Hammers conceded a late equaliser to United. Van Gaal responded to the criticism with statistics which seem to show that West Ham have played more long balls than his side.[79][80] His tactics were defended by fellow managers Arsène Wenger and Garry Monk.[81][82]

After 10 league matches, United were in ninth place with 13 points and two victories, their worst start to the season since 1986–87 under Ron Atkinson.[75] They were also suffering from injuries, including to new signings Herrera, Rojo and Falcao.[75] Van Gaal reacted to the poor form by saying that it would take three years to take his United team to their full potential.[76]

Van Gaal lost his first official game in charge, a 2–1 home defeat to Swansea City in the opening match of the Premier League season.[72] On 26 August, United lost 4–0 to League One side Milton Keynes Dons in the second round of the League Cup.[73] Van Gaal won his first competitive game in United's fourth match of the league season, a 4–0 home victory over Queens Park Rangers with goals from Di María, Herrera, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata.[74]

On 24 July, he managed United for the first time as they beat LA Galaxy 7–0 in a pre-season friendly,[68][69] using a 3–5–2 formation.[70] Manchester United won the 2014 International Champions Cup under Van Gaal, winning the final 3–1 against rivals Liverpool on 4 August.[71]

Van Gaal's first signings were midfielder Ander Herrera for £29 million,[61][62] and defender Luke Shaw for £30 million.[63][64] On 26 August he signed Argentine winger Ángel Di María from Real Madrid on a five-year contract, the £59.7 million fee setting a new record for a signing by an English club, and taking the club's summer spending to a reported £130 million.[65] On transfer deadline day, Van Gaal signed Daley Blind from Ajax for a fee of £14 million[66] and was granted an extension to sign Radamel Falcao on loan from AS Monaco for a reported £6 million.[67]

Van Gaal was confirmed to replace David Moyes as the new manager for Manchester United on 19 May 2014.[54] He signed a three-year contract coming into effect after the 2014 World Cup.[54] Van Gaal named Ryan Giggs as his assistant manager, Marcel Bout as assistant coach, specialising in oppositional scouting, and Frans Hoek as goalkeeping coach.[54] Albert Stuivenberg was appointed as assistant coach.[55] Van Gaal claimed he had inherited a "broken" United squad,[56][57][58] and that he would give youth a chance.[59] Ed Woodward said Van Gaal had "impressed everyone around the club" and that there was "a real positive energy and buzz around the place".[60]

Manchester United (2014–present)

[53] During their quarter-final match versus

The Dutch won their last group match against Chile 2–0 to advance through as group winners.[51] They then defeated Mexico 2–1 in the round of 16.

Ahead of the last game in the group, Van Gaal accused FIFA of "playing tricks" in the scheduling of matches to advantage the home nation, as Brazil were to play their last group match four hours after the Dutch, who they could meet in the Last 16 depending on their result. Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari reacted by saying "It was FIFA who chose the kick-off time. Some people expressed a view that we were going to choose who we were going to play. Those sorts of comments are either stupid or ill-intentioned". Van Gaal also criticised the referees who had awarded penalties against the Dutch in both of their matches, calling the decisions "unjustified" and "incorrect".[50]

Despite their successful qualifying campaign, expectations surrounding the Netherlands national team were comparatively low due to mixed pre-tournament friendly performances and the failure of the Dutch squad in Euro 2012 (they suffered 3 defeats out of 3 in the group stages in that tournament). In their first group game at the World Cup, at the Estádio Fonte Nova in Salvador, however, Van Gaal's Dutch team came from behind to defeat reigning champions Spain 5–1.[47] The Dutch victory over Spain was attributed in part to Van Gaal's use of counter-attacking tactics which disrupted the tiki-taka possession-based football of the Spanish team. His use of a 3–5–2 formation was notable, as opposed to the typical Dutch 4–3–3 and this helped the Netherlands to tactically take advantage of Spain's weaknesses. [48] In their next match, the Dutch were trailing 2–1 to Australia in the second half of their second group game, before winning 2–3 with the winning goal from young substitute Memphis Depay.[49]

He led the Netherlands through its 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification group as the team won nine and drew one of their ten matches with a goal difference of 34–5. Qualification was secured with two matches to spare, following a 2–0 away win against Andorra on 10 September 2013.[46]

On 6 July 2012, Van Gaal was presented as the new Netherlands coach.[44] "I am happy that the KNVB approached me," said Van Gaal, who was assisted by former Dutch internationals Danny Blind and Patrick Kluivert, both part of his successful Ajax squad from 1995. "This is the challenge which I have been waiting for."[45]

Van Gaal with the Dutch national team in 2013

Return to Netherlands national team (2012–2014)

On 7 March 2011, Bayern Munich declared that Van Gaal's contract was to be cancelled after the end of the 2010–11 season.[42] However, he was instead sacked on 10 April 2011 after losing the third place in the Bundesliga.[43]

Van Gaal's Bayern started the 2010–11 season by winning the DFL-Supercup, which had been officially reinstated after a 14-year absence.[41]


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