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7 instances when Louis van Gaal had a fallout with footballers

Manchester United’s new boss Louis van Gaal is clearly not the favourite manager around, but without any doubt, he is certainly a man of charact ...

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Top 5 / Top 10 04 Aug 2014, 07:33 IST
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Manchester United’s new boss Louis van Gaal is clearly not the favourite manager around, but without any doubt, he is certainly a man of character. The Dutchman had plenty to say for himself and others throughout his career, making several enemies on and off the pitch. We already know what the former Netherlands head coach has to say about himself, but what do his former colleagues have to say about him?In this slideshow, we take a look at seven such players who clearly are not his biggest fans. Updated on 17 July with additional content by Rohit Menon  

#1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic: \"He wanted to be a dictator, without a hint of a gleam in his eye.\"

Often known for his direct comments, Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played under Louis van Gaal at Ajax who was working as a technical director for the club back in 2004. A decade later now, the two don’t seem to be the best of friends, at least that is what Ibrahimovic believes. 

Following is an excerpt from his autobiography I Am Zlatan

We headed to a training camp in Portugal and, by that time Beenhakker had resigned as director and was replaced by Louis van Gaal. Van Gaal was a pompous ass. He was a little like Co Adriaanse. He wanted to be a dictator, without a hint of a gleam in his eye. As a player, he'd never stood out, but he was revered in the Netherlands because, as a manager, he'd won the Champions League with Ajax and received some medal from the government.

Van Gaal liked to talk about playing systems. He was one of those in the club who referred to the players as numbers. There was a lot of Five goes here and Six goes there, and I was glad when I could avoid him. In Portugal, I couldn't escape. I had to go in for a meeting with van Gaal and Koeman and listen to how they viewed my contribution in the first half of the season. It was like a performance review with grades, the kind of thing they loved at Ajax. I went into an office there and sat down in front of van Gaal and Ronald Koeman. Koeman smiled. Van Gaal looked sullen.

"Zlatan," said Koeman, "you've played brilliantly, but you're only getting an eight. You haven't worked hard enough at the back."

"Okay, fine," I said, wanting to leave.

I liked Koeman, but couldn't cope with van Gaal, and I thought, Great, an eight will do me. Can I have a break now?

"Do you know how to play in defence?" Van Gaal was sticking his oar in, and I could see that Koeman was getting annoyed too.

"I hope so," I replied.

Then van Gaal started to explain, and, believe me, I'd heard it all before. It was the same old stuff about how Nine—that is, me— defends to the right, while Ten goes to the left, and vice versa, and he drew a bunch of arrows and finished with a really harsh "Do you understand? Do you get all this?," and I took it as an attack.

"You can wake up any of the players at three in the morning," I said, "and ask them how to defend and they'll rattle it off in their sleep: Nine goes here and Ten goes there. We know that stuff, and we know you're the one who came up with it. But I've trained with van Basten, and he thinks otherwise."

"Excuse me?"

"Van Basten says Number Nine should save his strength for attacking and scoring goals, and, to tell the truth, now I don't know who I should listen to, van Basten – who's a legend – or van Gaal?" I said, putting special emphasis on the name van Gaal, as if he were some completely insignificant figure.

And what do you reckon? Was he happy?

He was fuming. Who should I listen to, a legend or van Gaal? "I've gotta go now," I said, and got out of there. 

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