Louis van Gaal v Frank de Boer: Who's the best bet in this Dutch auction?

The friends could become rival managers in the Premier League next season

Last Monday, as Frank de Boer celebrated becoming the first Ajax coach to win four consecutive Dutch League titles, he was asked a leading question:. Would Louis van Gaal be jealous of his protégé, given the older coach only won three?

"No way," De Boer smiled. "He'll be very happy. He loves to see me to do better than him!"

That is no doubt true, given their long friendship. However, that feeling may have to be put on hold. With Manchester United set to appoint Van Gaal as manager, and De Boer known to be monitored by Tottenham Hotspur despite official statements, the two coaches could find themselves in competition next season. There is a further twist: Van Gaal effectively rejected Spurs for Old Trafford, while De Boer was watched by United.

De Boer owes much of his approach to Van Gaal, who managed him at Ajax, Barcelona and for Holland. The older manager converted De Boer from a left-back to a centre-half after noticing his tactical awareness.

They both favour a tight 4-3-3, passing, hands-on coaching and youth promotion. That does not mean there aren't differences, though.

Current pedigree

De Boer has won his four trophies since Van Gaal last lifted silverware, the 2009-10 Bundesliga trophy with Bayern Munich. Yet the 43-year-old has none of Van Gaal's vast international experience. Is Van Gaal a little past it? Is De Boer fully ready?

Patrick Kluivert is Van Gaal's assistant with Holland, and is set to follow him to United. He also played under the 62-year-old with De Boer, and is enthusiastic about both. "Like Pep Guardiola as a player, you could see Frank would become a trainer," Kluivert says. "He is a big trainer coming. Van Gaal is already a big name, a great coach."

Figures close to Van Gaal maintain he has stayed fully abreast of every football development. "You cannot call him an old-fashioned trainer," says David Endt, another former Ajax manager.

Verdict Van Gaal

Impact and effect

De Boer effectively made a mission statement when he mentioned Spurs' interest: "I would like to add something to a club like Brendan Rodgers did at Liverpool." No doubt he would be given time at Tottenham, but United cannot afford the transition season that even the Anfield boss needed, which makes their choice of Van Gaal more appropriate.

Yet while Van Gaal ensures immediate impact, and puts in long-term foundations in terms of tactics and youth, there is a price to pay for the emotional intensity required for initial success. He tends not to stay in a job long because players become exhausted, as happened at Barcelona and Bayern. Van Gaal first placed faith in many of the current stars and immediately won titles, but then lost allies because of his abrasiveness.

De Boer would have more of an eye on the long term. He was always ambitious but never rushed, opting to learn his trade at youth level. His ideas, however, are said to hugely impress his players. He is understood now to want a job where all the elements are right – including the patience to allow him to build.

Verdict De Boer

Personality

Part of the problem with succeeding Alex Ferguson was personality. United needed someone with a presence big enough not to fear the scale of the job. Van Gaal undeniably has that, and will command respect. Kluivert insists the sergeant-major image is overplayed and that Van Gaal can be warm. "He is very straight with everybody," Kluivert says. "It's a pleasure to work with him."

De Boer is more level-headed than the explosive Van Gaal, but is capable of hard decisions while sticking to the overall plan regardless of temporary setbacks.

Kluivert insists he also shares one key characteristic with Van Gaal. "He is a winner. He wanted to win everything, even card games. That's the most important thing."

Verdict Van Gaal

Overall

Van Gaal seems the better bet now, but that could soon change.

Verdict Van Gaal

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable