Louis van Gaal has been criticised by fans for the tactics he has employed at the World Cup, with some Netherlands supporters claiming he has betrayed the traditions of 'Total Football'. However, the new Manchester United boss is not worried in the slightest about the criticism and told those who disagreed with his methods they were short-sighted.
Holland have won all three of their group matches and face a round of 16 clash with Mexico after topping Group B, eliminating defending champions Spain in the process and thrashing them 5-1 in the opening match. Van Gaal will take up his post at Old Trafford once his duties as Oranje boss are complete and fans of the Manchester United club should be delighted at the stick he is getting.
Holland dismantled Spain by using a formation resembling 5-4-1 with wing-backs tucking in when Vicente del Bosque's had the ball. When La Roja lost the ball, Holland broke at lightning speed with the wing-backs bombing on and looking to exploit either the magnificent movement of Robin van Persie or the tremendous pace of Arjen Robben.
Van Gaal has proved himself to be a pragmatist and decided to keep that formation for the remainder of the group matches, which is a problem for some. Dutch fans are fed a diet of stories about the glorious 'Total Football' of the Johan Cruyff teams of the 1970s, which was based loosely around a 4-3-3 set that use three very attacking players high up the pitch as much as possible.
Good news for United
There is nowhere like Holland for football purists and large sections of their support demand they play the game beautifully and try to win the 'right' way. Van Gaal pragmatism has not gone down well with some, who believe he is betraying his nation's traditions - he is not at all bothered, claiming winning is the only goal.
"I am not interested in what anybody has to say about how we play," he is quoted as saying in the Mirror.
"The only thing that matters is that you score one more than the opponent. I’ve said that from the start of this World Cup."
Fans of the Manchester United club should be enthused by the response of Van Gaal to the criticism and it is a good sign for when he eventually starts working with the Red Devils. David Moyes was something of a pragmatist, but his brand of reactive football did not suit the players or the traditions of style at Old Trafford.
He's no Moyes
Van Gaal does pragmatic football with style, setting up his side with very specific instructions to expose specific weaknesses in opponents and creating certain situations to allow the more creative and talented individuals in the team to do their thing. He does not compromise, however, and if anyone, no matter how senior, cannot execute his orders do not hang around long.
Manchester United need some kind of rigidity after a disastrous campaign last season that saw them finish seventh in the Premier League and got Moyes the sack. Van Gaal has the vision to restore excellence to the way the team plays and his refusal to be beholden to tradition is perfect - because that was what Sir Alex Ferguson was all about.