Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is a highly respected figure in the football world given his vast success with Ajax and Barcelona, amongst other sides, though there remains to be critics of the Dutchman.
Former Red Devil Angel Di Maria, the £59.7-million flop offloaded to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, is one of said critiques of the 64-year-old's methods, with the forward epitomising a small minority that oppose Van Gaal's authoritarian and brutish manner.
Now, however, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Barcelona's most-loved sons, have come out in support of their old boss. There is a little disclaimer worth noting, though - Van Gaal was responsible for kick-starting the duo's careers, having handed the 17-year-old Iniesta his debut and awarding Xavi his bow in 1998.
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As reported by the Daily Mail, Xavi said: "He was ahead of his time back then; he worked to perfect the training sessions and improve the team technically and tactically - 20 years ago he was a very complete coach".
Since making his competitive debut for Barcelona as a fresh-faced 18-year-old against RCD Mallorca in the Super Cup final, in which he scored, Xavi established himself as one the best passers in the game, and can lay claim to bettering the prolific careers of Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry with his sublime style of play and assists.
Xavi went on: "In time he [Van Gaal] will do a very good job at Manchester United. He will make them very strong in the Premier League and in the Champions League. He will do a great job."
Iniesta, another player hailed with the same ascendancies as his countryman, also thanked Van Gaal for his trust in him.
"He gambled on me as a player when there were some really big name players in front of me and that’s why he will always be special to me," the Spaniard said.
"He has been a fundamental person in my career and a key coach in my development."
For all of Van Gaal's flaws, of which there are few, one of his outstanding strengths is his eye for youth and willingness to give youngsters a chance to prove themselves on the big stage.
And Xavi and Iniesta's words of compassion should do nothing but soothe the concerns of United fans who, in recent times, have begun to doubt the philosophies of their passionate manager.
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