Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben has hailed Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal as the best coach he has ever had - alongside his current manager Pep Guardiola. However, the Dutch superstar did not mention Jose Mourinho, who coached Robben during his first stint as manager of Chelsea.
Robben has worked under Van Gaal for the last two years with the Netherlands and, ahead of the Oranje’s World Cup opening match against Spain on Friday night, hailed the recently-appointed Red Devils’ boss for taking the bold decision to stray from the national team’s traditional 4-4-3 system.
Van Gaal has implemented a 3-5-2 formation, which Robben believes brings the best out of the Netherlands’ current group of players.
"We have played three matches with the new formation and none of our opponents - Ecuador, Wales and Ghana - created a lot of chances, whereas we did," Robben told the Mirror. "I'm really confident that this is the best way for us to play in at the moment.
"I worked with him [van Gaal] at Bayern Munich before he took this job, so he has been very important to my career. Along with Pep Guardiola, I can say he is the best coach I ever had."
Considering Robben won several major honours under Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, that the 30-year-old chose not reserve a mention for Mourinho comes as a bit of a surprise. The winger won two Premier League titles, two League Cup and an FA Cup under the revered Portuguese coach before joining Real Madrid in 2007.
However, back in 2005 there were reports that Robben’s relationship with Mourinho was - at best - strained. The Dutchman, then aged 21, was forced to come out and publicly state that he was on good terms with the Chelsea boss.
Robben was recently linked with a surprise move to Manchester United, where Van Gaal is contracted for the next three years. The Bayern Munich star, however, instantly dismissed the speculation surrounding his future - making it crystal clear that he wanted to stay at the Allianz Arena.
That in itself is no surprise. Robben has won three Bundesliga titles, three German Cups and, for the first time in his career, the Champions League with the German giants. And he wrote his name into Bayern Munich folklore by scoring the winning goal against domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in last year’s Champions League final at Wembley.
A move to Manchester United currently looks out of the question, but could that change if Van Gaal has a quiet word in his ear over the next few weeks?