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Introducing Louis van Gaal

Discipline, flair and teamwork as key to success

“Bayern is a dream come true for me,” Louis van Gaal told his AZ Alkmaar players on informing them he was to leave the Dutch champions. From the Bavarians’ point of view, their first encounter with the respected coach was less a dream than a nightmare. In April 1995, FCB met Van Gaal’s Ajax in a Champions League semi-final. After a goalless stalemate in Munich, Bayern crashed out 5-2 in Amsterdam.

A couple of weeks later, Van Gaal sensationally led Ajax to Champions League glory, and also went on to lift the Intercontinental Cup at the end of the year, sealing his place in the list of modern coaching greats. Aloysius Paulus Maria “Louis” Van Gaal collected the UEFA Cup and three domestic championships with Ajax between 1991 and 1997, earning resounding praise for the exuberant football played by his teams along the way.

Discipline equals success

In Amsterdam, Van Gaal fashioned a team brimming with world-class technique and tactical nous. By the mid 1990s, Ajax were unanimously hailed as setting the gold standards in Europe, as the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars and the De Boer twins advanced to world-class status under Van Gaal’s tutelage.

“You won’t find a player with anything negative to say about him,” reported Mark van Bommel, who played for the Netherlands when Van Gaal spent a spell as national coach. The meticulous and hard-working boss is a great believer in authority and discipline. “Discipline is the basis for creativity,” he has stated. He expects individuals to serve the team. “I don’t want the eleven best [players], I want the best eleven.”