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'Better than last year’

Coach pleased after first week of pre-season

It was Sunday lunchtime and the temperatures in Munich were soaring, but the Bayern stars still broke sweat. Following Saturday’s relaxed and comfortable 12-0 warm-up victory over the Lohner Bayern Union fan club, Louis van Gaal laid on a training session focused on both regeneration and movement. After the workout, asked the head coach to review the first week of the pre-season phase.

Interview: Louis van Gaal Your team played a relaxed friendly yesterday. Are you happy with the way they played?
Louis van Gaal: It's obviously easy enough to beat an opponents like that. The most important thing was the players feeling the match rhythm for 45 minutes. But I still expect my players to observe the tactical instructions given them by their coach. Tactics are up to me.

Did the players follow instructions yesterday?
Our reserve team concentrated hard in the first half, but there wasn’t much tempo in the play. The first team started the second half well, there was much more pace, but they didn’t concentrate for 45 minutes. They stopped concentrating after quarter of an hour, and that shouldn’t be happening.

The reserves are training with your squad at the moment. What’s your impression of the second string?
They’re all delighted to be training with us, but the question is whether they can do what I tell them to do. That's always problematic.

Are you pleased with the first week back in training?
Yes, I’m feeling good about the week we’ve just had. I’ve told the players that the first week was better than last year – and I only had the frst team last year.

Has it possibly been better because everyone understands your approach and philosophy now?
The reserves don’t know me yet, so it’s just as difficult as a year ago. Perhaps it's a little easier because the ‘older’ players like Altintop, Olic and Pranjic are role models for the reserves. Basically, pre-season is hard work again because of the 13 players at the World Cup, which is one reason I’ve split it into two phases. It’ll make it easier for our World Cup players to catch up.

So you’re secretly hoping your players don’t do too well in South Africa?
I do hope they do well, but it would be better for Bayern if they were knocked out. The earlier they’re eliminated, the better it is for the club, and a good pre-season is vital for these players.