Speaking in an interview with France Football, managerial veteran Louis van Gaal discussed his retirement, PSG, Ajax and much more. Highlights.
On his retirement:
I am enjoying it a lot. It is another way of experience life. Nobody really understands. People believe that my life revolves around work, but that is not the case. When I was active, I did not think about football when I was at home. I would spend time with my wife and my children. Lots of managers are incapable of doing that, but I wasn’t. I also really enjoyed my sabbatical years, which were dotted across my career. I’m saying all this to convey that I have no problem staying at home with my grand-children, my children and my wife, especially since she and I each have a very active social life with lots of friends in common who we spend time with, notably for meals.”
Last season (2017/18), I was a pundit for the Champions’ League match against Bayern, in Paris. PSG won 3-0, but I said that Bayern were the better team, even though they lost. Neymar was only playing for himself. Not Kylian Mbappé, because he had just arrived, nor Edinson Cavani, because that is not his style. I love him. I love his attitude, his work ethic. I saw in the attitude of the other players something that said to me that they are not accepting of Neymar’s behaviour. But he is a star. In the world of football, you cannot say that of a star.
On Ajax’s season:
At Ajax, the philosophy is: attack, attack and attack. With pressing to win the ball back as quickly as possible and push on. When you play like that, you need creative players. Many. And Ajax had a lot. Not only Ziyech, Neres or Tadic, but also Frenkie De Jong, Daley Blind, who was the basis, and even De Ligt. That’s without talking about Van de Beek, who loves pushing deep. From an attacking point of view, those are incredible tools! But they needed Ten Hag to make them understand that they need to defend, which was not the case at the beginning of the season. He did that. When you get there, it is fantastic. Except that Tottenham made changes during both matches, he was not able to anticipate them, nor adapt to them, even if they came very close.
The new generation:
The evolution of society does not explain everything. As a manager, you need to take note of the rules of society. Society is everything that is outside of the club. And the temptation there is to go towards individualism or egoism, because of these computers, today it is so easy to press a button, permanently. When I was young, my reference points were my parents, the priest and school. That was my world. Today, the world has expanded considerably, but the individual is more and more withdrawn because he thinks he has seen everything. A manager like me must be the antidote for society. With my education, my principles, my way of approaching people, I need to adapt myself to the discipline and laws of society. I don’t have a choice. That is what I have always done in my career, but whilst keeping my footballing beliefs in tact. Evolution has never altered them.