On the same day that Louis van Gaal was accused of being “scum” by former Barcelona striker and Ballon d’Or winner Hristo Stoichkov, the Manchester United boss’ attitude has been defended by a Chelsea great.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Mail, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink described his former international manager as “mild” and “very loving” while also claiming he was convinced Van Gaal would eventually find great success at Old Trafford.
A tough start to the former Barcelona manager’s debut season in the Premier League saw any chances of them regaining the title end fairly quickly and they are now embroiled in a battle to secure a top four place to return to the Champions League.
Stoichkov is not the only one to take a disliking to Van Gaal and he has been tetchy at times this season when Manchester United have struggled, which sometimes put a strain on his relationship with the press and even some of his players.
However, this doesn’t match up with the view put forward by Hasselbaink, who believes that this isn’t the true nature of the man who handed the one-time Premier League Golden Boot winner the majority of his caps for Holland, though admitted he hadn’t seen him since he came to England.
“He is mild! I’m telling you! I have not spoken to him yet. I need to find the time to go over to Manchester and have a cup of coffee or tea with him when he is not that busy,” he said.
“He is somebody who tells you exactly what he wants, how he wants and when he wants. There are no prisoners. But he is a very loving man and a top coach, one of the best in the world.”
Hasselbaink made his name in England first with Leeds United and then Chelsea after a spell at Atletico Madrid in between. Before the Roman Abramovich era of bid spending at Stamford Bridge, the Dutchman was considered one of the most feared centre-forwards in the Premier League – most famous for his thunderous right foot.
Van Gaal was obviously an admirer because Hasselbaink describes how, when in charge of Barcelona, his compatriot was on the verge of signing him from Chelsea, only for him to be sacked just before the deal could go through.
“I was always one of his favourites. He wanted to sign me for Barcelona from Chelsea in 2003,” added the former Middlesbrough and Boavista striker.
“I will never forget this. The fee was already arranged, then they played Valencia, he lost at home, he got the sack, and the deal didn’t go through.”
Since retiring, Hasselbaink has gone into management himself and, after a spell with Royal Antwerp in Belgium, has proved a revelation for League Two side Burton Albion since taking over in November.
He has led his side to 14 wins and only three losses in the 22 matches he has been in charge for, which has seen Burton move up the table and they now sit clear at the top by two points and have a game in hand. Promotion to League One is expected and Hasselbaink’s reputation as a manager has grown.