Ex-Manchester United and Barcelona boss Louis van Gaal is on the verge of being appointed Netherlands head coach for the third time in his career after negotiations between the 69-year-old and the KNVB were reported to have reached the ‘final phase’.
Having been involved in football management almost non-stop for 25 years by the time he left United in 2016, Van Gaal hinted at retirement a few months later for family reasons. He then confirmed his retirement in 2019, stating he had no intention to take any further jobs in football.
But fast forward to 2021, the self-confessed ‘pensioner’ appears to have been tempted back to take over from Frank de Boer as the new Dutch national team coach.
Dutch outlet NOS writes that Van Gaal is now ‘almost certain’ to be appointed De Boer’s successor following a disappointing Euro 2020, with negotiations reaching an advanced stage.
It is said that Danny Blind, a long-time ally of Van Gaal’s dating back to Ajax’s all-conquering team of the early to mid-1990s and a former national team boss himself, will join his mentor as an assistant coach – Blind was also previously an assistant to Van Gaal at the 2014 World Cup.
Henk Fraser, who was Netherlands Under-21 coach at that time and is currently in charge of Sparta Rotterdam, the club where Van Gaal spent the happiest years of his playing career, will also join the coaching staff. The pair, along with Blind, were also briefly teammates there in the mid-1980s.
There had been a report that Liverpool defender and Oranje captain Virgil van Dijk was leading a players’ revolt against Van Gaal being named head coach. However, Van Dijk himself publicly refuted such claims on social media, with a a blunt tweet calling it out as ‘completely false’ and accusing the journalist behind the original story of making it up.
Van Gaal guided Netherlands to third place at the 2014 World Cup, which saw his well-drilled team thrash Spain and Brazil along the way. However, his first stint in charge had resulted in failure to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.
At club level, Van Gaal is most famous for his feats as Ajax coach, winning the UEFA Cup and Champions League during a golden period of the 1990s. He also won league titles with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, as well as breaking up the Dutch status quo to win the Eredivisie with AZ.
At Manchester United, he won the FA Cup in 2016 but was sacked a few days later.