Louis van Gaal doesn’t hold back from saying like it is. Van Gaal ticked off a journalist saying he felt his question was humiliating when he was asked to name the two players he had spoken to before deciding on Ron Vlaar for the first shot. And then he ticked off Fifa.
“A match to decide the third place should never be played. I have been saying this for 10-15 years now. As it is we get one day less to recover and that I think is unfair. But the worst thing is that you could end up losing two consecutive games. So in a tournament where you have played marvellously, you end up going a loser. This match I think has nothing to do with sport. And the only prize that matters is the one the champions get,” said Van Gaal.
Van Gaal said he couldn’t get reserve keeper Tim Krul in for Jasper Cillessen because the other substitutions had to be made. “I got (Daryl) Janmaat in for (Bruno) Indi because he was slow and they were creating a bit of space there. Also, Indi was on a yellow card. (Nigel) Di Jong was replaced by Jordy Clasie firstly because had an injury (groin) and also because Clasie is a better player going forward and Robin (Van Persie) was exhausted,” said Van Gaal. Van Persie had also been down with a stomach ailment before the Wednesday’s semi-finals.
Cillessen, who plays for Ajax Amsterdam, has now failed to save all 20 penalties he has faced in his career.
Van Gaal said it was a “shame” not going to the final because “we were the equal if not better team. But we didn’t create very much. They didn’t either and that says something about the teams’ organisation. There were so many attacking players on both sides but few chances were created. We saw a tactical match today.”
The disappointment of losing the semi-final notwithstanding, Van Gaal said it had been a fantastic tournament for Holland. “No one gave us a chance of going beyond the first round. Then we played Mexico in the next round and they are not an easy team to beat. Argentina is a top football country with top players. Penalties are always about luck and what hurts more is that I taught (Sergio) Romero how to stop them...We were the first ones to recognise his talent and get him to Europe (from Racing Clube Avellaneda in Argentina),” he said.
“Vlaar was the best player on the pitch and I thought he would be confident about his shot. But it shows that when the push comes to shove, it is not easy scoring from penalties. You would think having won the shootout against Costa Rica we would have more confidence going to the tie-breakers in the next round but that didn’t happen.”
With 10 players from the Dutch league, one that’s not among the elite in Europe, others such as Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt who have left their best days behind them and are now playing in Turkey and a largely young squad, Van Gaal’s Holland were one of the surprise packages of this tournament. Reason enough for fans of Manchester United —Van Gaal’s next stop — to think that the club has chosen right.