August 18 – Louis van Gaal doesn’t do modest. The new Dutch head coach has said he would have picked himself for the role and added that he wants to lead Oranje to the world title.
“I’ve been retired for five years, and I saw the need for this: who else should do it?” said Van Gaal in typical confident mood at his official presentation on Tuesday. “A point behind in qualifying, a preparation time of one and a half days… What can you do, what should you change and what not?”
He succeeds Frank de Boer, who exited the Netherlands following a disappointing round of 16 exit against the Czech Republic at Euro 2020. In his first squad, the veteran coach sprung several surprises, handing first call-ups to teenager defender Devyne Rensch, left back Tyrell Malacia and 37-year-old goalkeeper Remko Pasveer. Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk also returns.
The Dutch failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and the Dutch FA turned to the experienced Van Gaal, who led the Netherlands to bronze in Brazil, to ensure Oranje don’t miss out again.
“My personal goal is to become world champions, but I’m not doing it for myself,” explained Van Gaal. “I do it to help Dutch football. If I were in the position of the KNVB, I would have also ended up with myself. That’s why I said yes.”
He will however face an uphill battle. In March, Turkey defeated Netherlands 4-2 in their first qualifier for the Qatar World Cup. The Dutch recovered with victories against Latvia and Gibraltar, but remain on the back foot in Group G behind Senol Gunes’ team. And things won’t get easier in September when they meet Norway, Montenegro and Turkey in a triple header.
“The polls show that I have a lot of fans, but if we lose in Norway, which is possible, I am suddenly not the right coach,” said Van Gaal. “It can go that fast.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org