Van Gaal coached the Catalan giants between 1997-2000 and again between 2002-2003 and handed Xavi his professional debut in ’98.
The Camp Nou legend revealed in an interview with ESPN’s Andy Mitten that he was initially unconvinced by the Dutch coach, who landed the Barcelona job after leading Ajax to Champions League glory in 1995, but quickly realised that there was method to his manager’s madness.
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"After two days of training under him, I thought, 'Who is this idiot?’” Xavi admitted. “After a week, I thought, 'He's right.' He'll always be in my heart, Louis van Gaal."
"[He is a] good person, very good trainer. He has a very strong character, but he's calm in the Premier League because there's less pressure. He's much calmer than when he was at Barca or Bayern Munich.
"He's honest, methodical and a real perfectionist. He's very demanding, he's strict and he wants to achieve the highest levels possible."
Van Gaal has not convinced everyone at Old Trafford
Van Gaal has failed to convince everyone at Old Trafford since joining the club in 2014, with pundits and fans critical of Manchester United’s style of play under the former Barcelona boss.
United legend Paul Scholes has been particularly vocal with his criticism of Van Gaal’s philosophy, but fans and former players are still adjusting to life without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.
Ferguson’s sides played an exciting, attacking brand of football and won a record number of trophies in the process.
Van Gaal is a more conservative coach who, for the time being, is prioritising defensive solidity over attacking adventure.
Not all fans are happy with that, but it’s clear Van Gaal is no idiot.
Manchester United fans: would you be upset if Louis van Gaal was sacked? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!