Exclusive: Henry Winter on Louis van Gaal

by Sam Peoples

Earlier in February, our editor-in-chief Sam Peoples attended The Telegraph’s Total Football Live event in London sponsored by Virgin Media.

Speaking at the end of the event, Sam posed his own question to The Telegraph’s Henry Winter to try and gain some insight into United’s boss: “Sticking with Manchester United, part of the attraction of Louis van Gaal was his personality. How have you found being with him and have there been any twitchy ass moments?”

Henry offered us some great insight into van Gaal, what it is like to attend his press conferences and that he feels he will come good at Manchester United.

“I’ve been dealing with him [van Gaal] for 20 years going back to Vienna and the Champions League final,” Winter said.

“Talking about Tim’s [Sherwood] point on youngsters, he does bring through youngsters and has faith in them – Tyler Blackett we’ve seen, Patrick Kluivert back then.

Louis van Gaal is arrogant and has huge belief in his own ability, backed up by a CV and a performance at the World Cup that justifies that.

“I would love to know if he is surprised by the competitive nature of English football at every game he goes to like when he turned up at the Abbey Stadium, effectively the fourth tier of English football. You don’t get the fourth tier in Holland which is of that intensity with a ground full of fans like that – it’s non league, it’s like an amateur team on the fringes of Amsterdam. I think he has been shocked by that in every game he plays even if is a team at the bottom, they lost to Leicester.


“I think he is, if you can say this about one of the greatest coaches of the last 20 years, finding his feet but he asks no-one for advice, apart from himself. I hope he listens to Giggs because he understands the intensity of English football but I don’t think he listens.

“His press conferences are basically a celebration of him up there [points to the ceiling] in the pulpit and us sort of going like that [bowing motion].”

“I think he [van Gaal] has always had this incredible self regard. 20 years ago the Dutch Football Writers Association actually wrote to Ajax and said please can your manager be a little bit more humble because they were such adversarial press conferences.”

Tim Sherwood then asked Henry if he felt van Gaal’s self-confidence came as a consequence of his success over the last 20 years or whether he has always had that much confidence.

“I think he has always had this incredible self regard,” Henry responded.

“20 years ago the Dutch Football Writers Association actually wrote to Ajax and said please can your manager be a little bit more humble because they were such adversarial press conferences.

“He’s a fabulous manager and he will get it right but I do slightly worry that I don’t see much obvious development imposing of his philosophy in the team. I wouldn’t know what his best team is. I’m not a fan of Rooney in midfield, I’d much rather see him further forward and I think he has now got a slight problem in central midfield with Carrick injured and Fletcher gone, and with Daley Blind as to whether he is a centre-half or a central midfielder.”

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