Louis van Gaal‘s philosophy has been his mantra this season for Manchester United but despite his explanations as to exactly what it is, questions have always been asked.
Ander Herrera has now offered some detailed insight into precisely what van Gaal’s philosophy entails and how the players are thinking.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Henry Winter at The Telegraph, Herrera said: “The manager uses this word ‘philosophy’. His philosophy is nobody is more important than anybody else. There is no ‘pecking order’. Of course we have stars but between us we are 25 important players. He is going to play who is better in that moment.
“His philosophy is keep the ball, have more possession than the opponent and the space is coming. When you play side to side three or four times, the space is coming. We have to improve, of course, because we want to be as high up the league as possible.
“Against Swansea we had possession, we keep the ball side to side, we didn’t give so many chances away and we were close to the box but the manager told us we have to ‘finish the job’. We crossed so many times, Luke (Shaw), Antonio (Valencia), Paddy (McNair), Ashley Young.
“He doesn’t like us to be ‘individualista’, an individual just thinking of themselves. He wants us to think as a group, a compact team, helping each other out. We are all in it together. His character is this: he’s fair. He’s very sincere. He always tell you things face to face – criticism and praise. When he feels something, he cannot keep it inside. He has to tell you. That’s important. You know what he’s thinking.”
The concept of playing as a team rather than a set of individuals is far from ground-breaking but is clearly an integral part of van Gaal’s philosophy.
One slight worry among fans will be if the ‘individualista’ isn’t encouraged, that the likes of Angel di Maria could consciously avoid expressive and expansive football. Sometimes a game needs an individual moment to change it and those players are the most dangerous in a side.
Today’s home game against Sunderland is one which Man United immediately need to bounce back following defeat to Swansea last weekend and fans will be keen to see Herrera start again.
Philosophy aside, results are now what is important for United with the race for the top four getting tighter every week and with a difficult March ahead, now is a good time for van Gaal’s philosophy to really kick into gear.