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Louis van Gaal: The Biography

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So who is Louis Van Gaal? An inflexible ex-PE teacher who only knows how to act like a dictator or a footballing visionary that has made him one of the greatest ever European managers? Wherever he has gone, Van Gaal has been accused of being a domineering disciplinarian and a control freak. He is certainly, by his own admission, a man who leaves nothing to chance. A disci So who is Louis Van Gaal? An inflexible ex-PE teacher who only knows how to act like a dictator or a footballing visionary that has made him one of the greatest ever European managers? Wherever he has gone, Van Gaal has been accused of being a domineering disciplinarian and a control freak. He is certainly, by his own admission, a man who leaves nothing to chance. A disciple in the 1970s of Rinus Michels' Total Football philosophy, he is a fascinating contradiction - an ultra-individualist utterly devoted to the collective effort. He believes in the team over the individual, in always having a plan and a team prepared to follow that plan. Van Gaal led the young Ajax team he moulded to Champions League glory in 1995, went on to win titles across Europe with Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich and is currently in his second stint as national coach of Holland. It is a career that has never been short on colour and drama - from fallouts with players to rants at the media wherever he has managed. Dutch football commentator Maarten Meijer's has written the definitive biography of Van Gaal - both the man and his methods. It offers the best psychological insight so far - from his earliest roots to his greatest triumphs - into the man given the task of returning the glory days to Manchester United.


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So who is Louis Van Gaal? An inflexible ex-PE teacher who only knows how to act like a dictator or a footballing visionary that has made him one of the greatest ever European managers? Wherever he has gone, Van Gaal has been accused of being a domineering disciplinarian and a control freak. He is certainly, by his own admission, a man who leaves nothing to chance. A disci So who is Louis Van Gaal? An inflexible ex-PE teacher who only knows how to act like a dictator or a footballing visionary that has made him one of the greatest ever European managers? Wherever he has gone, Van Gaal has been accused of being a domineering disciplinarian and a control freak. He is certainly, by his own admission, a man who leaves nothing to chance. A disciple in the 1970s of Rinus Michels' Total Football philosophy, he is a fascinating contradiction - an ultra-individualist utterly devoted to the collective effort. He believes in the team over the individual, in always having a plan and a team prepared to follow that plan. Van Gaal led the young Ajax team he moulded to Champions League glory in 1995, went on to win titles across Europe with Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich and is currently in his second stint as national coach of Holland. It is a career that has never been short on colour and drama - from fallouts with players to rants at the media wherever he has managed. Dutch football commentator Maarten Meijer's has written the definitive biography of Van Gaal - both the man and his methods. It offers the best psychological insight so far - from his earliest roots to his greatest triumphs - into the man given the task of returning the glory days to Manchester United.

30 review for Louis van Gaal: The Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hasan

    When I started reading this book, Van Gaal's United were in a midst of a crisis (still are). There were questions about his philosophy and processes were in doubt. Louis Van Gaal's Manchester United had spent a quarter of a million pounds and were out of the Champions League and four points from the top four. Media and ex-players along with some fans were calling for his head as his own student Jose Mourinho is waiting in the wings. The question was would Van Gaal go before I finish the book? A When I started reading this book, Van Gaal's United were in a midst of a crisis (still are). There were questions about his philosophy and processes were in doubt. Louis Van Gaal's Manchester United had spent a quarter of a million pounds and were out of the Champions League and four points from the top four. Media and ex-players along with some fans were calling for his head as his own student Jose Mourinho is waiting in the wings. The question was would Van Gaal go before I finish the book? A month on, I have learnt more about the man, and he is still in his job. What was expected to be a fairy-tale ending between the world's most arrogant and single-minded manager and the world's most famous football club has not gone exactly to plan. Meijer doesn't really write about LVG and Manchester United, as the biography is of the man and his successes and failures as a player, PE teacher, manager and individual. The book is of course unauthorised but Meijer provides enough information on LVG as a footballer from 1969 to 1987 , his insecurities at Ajax during the Cruyff era, his time in management at Ajax, Barcelona (twice), Holland, Technical Director of Ajax, AK Alkmaar, Bayern Munich, Holland and Manchester United. He charters the public spats with fellow Dutchmen like Johaan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman, Leo Beenhaker and the Bayern hierachy. His fallout with players like Rivaldo, Lucio and Zlaatan show a man who is ruthless who believes that "no individual is allowed to do as he pleases," and as he said: "I don't need the eleven best. I need the best eleven" The book shows his passion, commitment and focus and determination at all costs, yet despite Van Gaal's successes on the pitch, the author highlights what has built Van Gaal's character from his Catholic upbringing and the death of his father at a young age which contributed to his development as a leader who was not prepared to compromise on what he thought was right. Manchester United fans are more or less resigned to believe the Van Gaal era will end up messy and this book only cements that belief. His fallout at Ajax as Technical Director and as coach of Barcelona and Bayern demonstrates that when it falls apart it falls apart spectacularly. Van Gaal has a tendency to alienate key players, the board and large sections of the fanbase, which was the price the faithful paid for early success which ended up in failure due to his single minded arrogance and bad luck with players as was the case with Bayern. anny Nevertheless Van Gaal despite what is currently taking place at Manchester United is still at large a footballing legend who many have seen revolutionise the concept of football during his time at Ajax, laid the foundations for Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and managed to gel a group of individuals into a team of World cup semi finalists who destroyed Spain, Australia and Chile in the group stages, beat Mexico due to their spotkick failures, and used his mind games of genius to eliminate Costa Rica in the quarter final. Also current football managers like Ronald Koeman, Danny Blind, Pep Guardiola, Philip Cocu, Frank De Boer and Jose Mourinho all had played or worked under him at some stage during their professional careers. In 2010 the World Cup Semi Finals had Holland, Spain and Germany who had players from Barcelona, Ajax, AK Alzamar and Bayern Munich, again teams Van Gaal managed and had developed some young players like Muller and Xavi who went on to play for their country. Louis Van Gaal should not be judged on his time at Manchester United. The man isn't out of his depth at the club, but it could be the challenge of Manchester United came possibly at the twilight of his career where players are different to the likes he managed twenty years ago at Ajax, as his dealings with some big players like Di Maria were not handled well. Despite what will happen at Old Trafford, Louis Van Gaal will have laid good youth foundations at the club and help rebuild the malaise that Ferguson left for Moyes who just could not overturn it. A must read for football fans who like strong characters, and Louis Van Gaal is one of the heavyweight European characters of football.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Balaji Srinivasan

    A masterpiece about the master. A must read for every United fan like me. After reading the book, everyone will stand behind our manager. I don't know whether he'll bring immediate success to the club. But I firmly believe that he's laying solid foundations for the future. Our future is in safe hands. Now I believe the word "Philosophy". Thanks to Maarten Meijer. LVG did wonders wherever he goes. I like the way he turned around a club like AZ Alkmaar. This guy deserves to bow out with his heads h A masterpiece about the master. A must read for every United fan like me. After reading the book, everyone will stand behind our manager. I don't know whether he'll bring immediate success to the club. But I firmly believe that he's laying solid foundations for the future. Our future is in safe hands. Now I believe the word "Philosophy". Thanks to Maarten Meijer. LVG did wonders wherever he goes. I like the way he turned around a club like AZ Alkmaar. This guy deserves to bow out with his heads high. I firmly believe that he'll do that with us. Favorite quotes: 1) Confronting with a referee when he was a player: "If you want to make it into tomorrow's newspapers, moustache-man(referee), you should give me a yellow card. If you want to make it to the front pages, you should give me two yellows." I like that arrogance. :-) 2) No individual is allowed to do as he pleases. 3) I don't need the eleven best. I need the best eleven. 4) At the press meet, announcing his resignation as Barcelona coach in the most sarcastic way. "Friends of the press. I am leaving. Congratulations"

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tony Trozzo

    In this information packed biography about Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal, I learned many new things about a man I thought I already knew lots about. He took the approach of football in a completely new way which changed the way teams perform to this day. The training and playing styles Louis brought to European football is quite unbelievable and at first no one thought they would catch on but now hes on top of the football world. I love reading biography's about famous sports personne In this information packed biography about Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal, I learned many new things about a man I thought I already knew lots about. He took the approach of football in a completely new way which changed the way teams perform to this day. The training and playing styles Louis brought to European football is quite unbelievable and at first no one thought they would catch on but now hes on top of the football world. I love reading biography's about famous sports personnel because it brings in a new aspect of sports. In this book I got a new level of knowledge of one of my favorite football managers, it was really a book that I didn't want to put down, and for me that is not easy. The author, Maarten Meijer really did a great job of talking about all the aspects of MR.Van Gaals life and from the time he first started managing how he would change the game. For anyone who loves the sport, this is An absolute must read,but dont pick up the book and open the first page if you dont have lots of time because you wont want to stop reading! My overall opinion of this book is about as perfect as you can get, this book will go down as one of my favorites of all time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    A thorough job telling the background of van Gaal's career up to the 2014 World Cup and his move to Man Utd (not much on either though, as they're both so recent), back to growing up and his playing career where the author feels it's shaped his character. All kinds of sources are called on to present a narrative of his achievements, influences, and conflicts and fallings-out (lots of these...it won't all make comfortable reading for United fans). I'd have preferred more from the man himself and a A thorough job telling the background of van Gaal's career up to the 2014 World Cup and his move to Man Utd (not much on either though, as they're both so recent), back to growing up and his playing career where the author feels it's shaped his character. All kinds of sources are called on to present a narrative of his achievements, influences, and conflicts and fallings-out (lots of these...it won't all make comfortable reading for United fans). I'd have preferred more from the man himself and a little less from more dubious sources such as press releases, tabloids of ill repute, Twitter and online rants - (unlike, for example, Luis Lourenço's excellent Mourinho book) So it comes across as written from a distance, but it's good background reading and admirably balanced, with plenty from van Gaal's critics as well as his admirers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Igor

    The first half of the book should be taught at university's on subject how you should write sporting biography, it was absolutely amazing. The second half of the book is not on that level I would say, but still pretty good. Even though van Gaal is not participating in the writing of this book you will learn very well from it what type of men he is, what he was doing in order to win all the trophies that he won. There is very good inside of one of the most successful football coaches in the footba The first half of the book should be taught at university's on subject how you should write sporting biography, it was absolutely amazing. The second half of the book is not on that level I would say, but still pretty good. Even though van Gaal is not participating in the writing of this book you will learn very well from it what type of men he is, what he was doing in order to win all the trophies that he won. There is very good inside of one of the most successful football coaches in the football history. You may agree or disagree with his tactics and methods, but you cannot disagree that he is successful. The best thing about this book is that the author Meijer does not go into details about every game and all the fixtures of the games that you can check on internet, he is telling a story about van Gaal that you will enjoy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Arpan Chatterjee

    This is a book for Manchester United fans, specially the impatient ones. I have been a life long united fan, and could not understand Van Gaal's team formations, strategy or even the substitutions. That is why I thought I should read this. And this was a delight to read. The best thing about the book is that instead of focusing on articulate and beautiful english, the novel is more about football, tactics and characteristics of this man. Provides a great insight into what might be going on in hi This is a book for Manchester United fans, specially the impatient ones. I have been a life long united fan, and could not understand Van Gaal's team formations, strategy or even the substitutions. That is why I thought I should read this. And this was a delight to read. The best thing about the book is that instead of focusing on articulate and beautiful english, the novel is more about football, tactics and characteristics of this man. Provides a great insight into what might be going on in his mind and how he is indeed the right man at United..Thanks Martin.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vedanta Bagchi

    A very good read about LVG is as a person and how he chooses to operate. The narrative can be a bit too tedious at times and at times it does feel as if the author over-analyses a few key points. But on the whole, a very good read

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul duncanson

    Loved it highly recommended read for United fans. this book is a great way to learn about our new manager and can't wait to see how this season turns out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kannan murali

    Excellent if you want to get to know Louis Van Gaal. But little reference to the tactics he used at his teams. Disappointed!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bernard Teo

  12. 4 out of 5

    Abdullah Almeshal

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Howells

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andi Garbett

    A brilliant insight into a brilliant manager, I hope that this doesn't get vetted by Van Gaal!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Age

  16. 4 out of 5

    Clive Leworthy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ming Yang

  18. 4 out of 5

    Markus

  19. 4 out of 5

    Danny Buts

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan Lynch

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike Chandler

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bebuk

  23. 4 out of 5

    Darren Kong

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aidan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Edward Collin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tai Kaku

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Jones

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peter Keely

  30. 5 out of 5

    James McCreath

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