Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

LOUIS HAS HAD TO WIN UGLY AT O LY AT OL LDTRAFFORD ; Van Gaal Has Adapted His Total Football Principals to Lead United Back into Top Four

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

LOUIS HAS HAD TO WIN UGLY AT O LY AT OL LDTRAFFORD ; Van Gaal Has Adapted His Total Football Principals to Lead United Back into Top Four

Article excerpt

LOUIS van Gaal arrived with a reputation as the champion of Total Football.

Yet it is the Dutchman's ability to roll up his sleeves and win ugly that is proving most effective at United.

The fluid game that was the hallmark of Rinus Michels' teams in the 1970s is yet to make its way to Old Trafford.

Instead, United's recent rise to fourth place in the Premier League owes more to a gritty resolve, which is also a fundamental part of Van Gaal's make-up.

Against Arsenal it was a backs-to-the-wall job for 45 minutes before Arsene Wenger's side punched themselves out.

Against Stoke it was the late heroics of David de Gea that secured the points.

Neither performance could be considered vintage United - but they have played their part in engendering a feel-good factor at the club that has barely been evident over the past 18 months.

"Winning for a top club like Manchester United is the most important thing in the week or in a day," Van Gaal has noted.

For all that is said about his philosophy, that simple truth is at the heart of his work.

It is the strand of his persona that appears to have had the most profound impact on his former apprentice Jose Mourinho, who has developed into football's arch pragmatist.

Van Gaal is a lover of the beautiful game and his long-term target will be to make United as attractive as they are effective.

But on the back of a Pounds 150m summer spend and a minimum target of Champions League football next year, the former Ajax, Barcelona and Barcelona. and Munich manager knows only results will allow him to complete his mission in possibly his final job.

His pragmatism is what sets him apart from that other Michels disciple Johan Cruyff.

Both men took their lead from the godfather of Total Football.

Both men took those prinicples to Ajax and A Barcelona.

And both men used them to lead teams to the summit of European club football. …

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