The last dance of Louis Van Gaal The42

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Let’s start with a stat owned by The Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson.

The last player to score a game-winning goal in a competitive game away from a penalty shootout against a Dutch team led by Louis Van Gaal?

Jason McAteer.

The stat still stands as, for the second time, Argentina knocked a Van Gaal team out of the World Cup on spot kicks.

“This was my last game, my third term and in that time I coached 20 games and didn’t lose any,” Van Gaal told reporters after the game. “I think you can google it, ‘Dutch team and Louis Van Gaal’ and you’ll also see the goal difference. I’m looking back on a fantastic moment with a group of players.”

Thus says goodbye to Louis, a man of magnificent and intemperate convictions whom the world of soccer has only recently grown to love. Not that this includes the Argentina players, whose unfunny celebrations extended to Messi covering his ears in front of Van Gaal and Emiliano Martinez telling him to shut the fuck up.

Martinez should know by now that telling Van Gaal to shut down is like trying to dodge falling rain.

Van Gaal’s other critics are of course the Dutch press, who have long been unconvinced by his style of play. The first question in the press conference last night was not ‘Louis, you were very close, can you summarize the game?’ but instead a rather detailed tactical question asking Van Gaal to agree with the claim that the game plan only worked when the Dutch went back to four.

Marco Van Basten has been a high-profile critic on television, while several Dutch journalists in Qatar have also criticized him, including one who wrote rudely about finding Van Gaal’s phone in a toilet, to which the journalist wrote that Van Gaal is now a frequent visitor due to his advanced age.

Gavin Cooney
Reports from Qatar

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These men who do not hold Van Gaal in high regard have evidently not seen Louis, the fabulous documentary about his life and career currently on Amazon Prime. The film betrays Van Gaal’s basic decency and humanity along with his incorrigible self-confidence, which he admits has gotten him into trouble in the past. “I’m good at being right,” Van Gaal says in the documentary, concisely summing up himself.

Van Gaal explained after the game that he does not have the kinds of wingers he has had in the past, such as Ajax’s Finidi George and Marc Overmars, who, he said, can keep the pitch big and wide. His alternate plan to achieve this was to rely on full-backs in Denzel Dumfries and Daley Blind.

Lionel Scaloni matched him by choosing a defense of three and he was right: that a rookie coach could win this battle over Van Gaal is a huge merit for him…

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