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Van Gaal reflects…

…on Haifa, Toni and the season so far

Tuesday’s 3-0 victory away to Maccabi Haifa marked Louis van Gaal’s first foray into the Champions League since December 2002, almost seven years ago. The new Bayern boss was broadly pleased with what he saw, especially his team’s clever tactical approach and high-paced passing before half-time.

Prior to boarding the plane back to Munich, Van Gaal took questions on a number of topics, including the previous night’s game and Luca Toni’s potential comeback in the third division on Friday. The Dutch supremo also looked back on his first two and a half months at the Munich helm.

Louis Van Gaal, are you pleased with last night’s performance?
Van Gaal: “I was very satisfied with the first half. We played well. It was our best half of the season. Maccabi Haifa are a good team, but we’ve come away with a great result. I don’t believe Juventus or Bordeaux will achieve the same outcome.”

What specifically pleased you about the first half?
“Our tempo. They pulled ten men back behind the ball which meant we were very short of space. But we still maintained an excellent pace and created plenty of chances. All we lacked was a goal.”

Jörg Butt was still required to make a save or two after half-time.
“We were poor in the 15 minutes after half-time. We gave away possession too often. I put that right with my substitutions. We recovered our shape, we lost the ball less often, and we scored the goals.”

You replaced both Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben.
“I had to use the match as part of a fitness programme for both Ribéry and Robben. Ribéry’s been injured and can’t manage 90 minutes. He’s had 30 minutes, 45 minutes and now 60 minutes. Robben didn’t play a full 90 minutes for Real Madrid in the summer, although he has slightly fewer problems than Franck.”

How would you summarise your time at Bayern so far?
Van Gaal: “Pre-season was difficult for us, but if we beat Nürnberg on Saturday, it’ll be fair to call it a decent opening to the season. Before that, we have to win.”

Will Luca Toni turn out for the reserves on Friday?
“I still have to think it over. Luca wanted to play against Sandhausen last weekend, but I felt he needed a full week training with the squad first. We’ve talked about him playing 45 minutes at most on Friday, providing everything goes well in training. But I need to talk it through with him again.”