Who is Louis van Gaal?: The Netherlands manager set to take charge at Manchester United after the World Cup

Van Gaal has been confirmed as the replacement to David Moyes

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Louis van Gaal has been confirmed as the replacement to David Moyes, with Ryan Giggs assuming a new role as his Number Two.

Manchester United appoint Louis van Gaal as manager

So what will he bring to Old Trafford that Moyes couldn’t? Previous success in terms of silverware, for a start.

Who is he?

Born Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaalz in Amsterdam on August 8 1951,Van Gaal made his name as a midfielder in the Dutch league, enjoying spells with Royal Antwerp, Telstar and most prominently Sparta Rotterdam. Having made 248 appearances for Rotterdam, van Gaal moved on to AZ Alkmaar, where he ended his career in 1987 as he joined their backroom staff as assistant manager.

Van Gaal would return to Ajax to learn his trade under manager Leo Beenhakker. With Beenhakker leaving the club to head to Spain and Real Madrid, Van Gaal was promoted to head coach and tasked with promoting the club’s philosophy of playing ‘Total Football’, having seen the Ajax sides of the 1970’s display such an attacking and creative style of football.


The Dutchman proved a massive success, landing two Eredivisie titles, a Uefa Cup and a first Champions League crown in over 20 years. Despite the victorious campaigns in Europe coming with the first four years of his managerial career, Van Gaal is yet to taste the success of a second European Cup, despite stints with two of Europe’s finest clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The 1995 Champions League triumph saw Van Gaal lad a line-up that included some of the most attacking-minded players Europe had to offer, with names such as Frank Rijkaard, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars and Patrick Kluivert complimented by Dutch stalwarts Edwin Van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf, Jari Litmanen and the De Boer brothers.

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Having been scouted out by the Catalan side, Van Gaal headed to Barcelona where he inherited Sir Bobby Robson’s side that had just claimed a cup treble the season before. Van Gaal continued their success, winning a La Liga and Copa del Rey double in his first year in charge and retaining the league title to following season.

Not one to back down from a confrontation though, Van Gaal saw his time in Spain come to an end following a trophyless season in 1999-2000 that was also littered with run-ins with his own players and staff, such as Brazilian World Cup winner Rivaldo.

He chose to take up the vacant Netherlands head coaching role, but would see his two-year spell end in disaster as Holland failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, being held in Japan and South Korea. This was soon followed by an unsuccessful return to Barcelona for the 2002-03 season before a return to Ajax as technical director a year later.

Redemption would follow though, as he remained in Holland tasked with the mammoth challenge of overhauling Ajax and PSV Eindhoven to try and guide AZ Alkmaar to the Dutch league title. Despite coming close in both 2006 and 2007, Van Gaal looked destined to fail when his side finished a lowly 11th the following season.

But the 2008-09 campaign would see Van Gaal return to winning ways, as he secured the Dutch title to give AZ Alkmaar just their second ever league win, and earn himself the nickname the “Czar of Alkmaar”.

Leaving AZ for Bayern Munich that summer, Van Gaal won a league title in a third different country as he claimed both the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal Cup, but Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan side would beat him in the Champions League final to prevent an unprecedented hat-trick.

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Sacked by Bayern the following season, van Gaal was given a chance to redeem himself with the national side as he replaced Bert Van Marwijk following their dismal showing at the 2012 European Championships. He has so far guided the Oranje to the 2014 World Cup, although anything less than a semi-final appearance would be deemed a failure by the “Iron Tulip” – another fond nickname given to him for his strict disciplinarian regimes.  

Previous clubs managed: Ajax, Barcelona, Netherlands, AZ, Bayern Munich

Trophies won:

Ajax –

Eredivisie (1994, 1995, 1996)

KNVB Beker (1993)

Champions League (1995)

Intercontinental Cup (1995)

UEFA Cup (1992)

UEFA Super Cup (1995)

Barcelona –

Spanish Primera Division (1998, 1999)

Copa del Rey (1998)

AZ Alkmaar –

Eredivisie (2009)

Bayern Munich –

German Bundesliga (2010)

DFB-Pokal (2010)

DFB Supercup (2010)