Van Gaal retires: Seven times LVG made us laugh

Omar Karmani 17/01/2017
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Louis van Gaal bids adieu to football.

Louis van Gaal confirmed in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf on Monday that he would not be seeking another position in football management.

The 65-year-old’s final post, at Manchester United, ended hours after the Dutchman helped the Red Devils lift the FA Cup, marking the first piece of major silverware since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club.

Despite receiving substantial offers from the Far East, Van Gaal cited family as the underlying reason for his retirement.

A glittering coaching career across Europe brought many trophies, but Van Gaal will also be remembered for a number of amusing incidents.

Here, Sport360 remembers seven instances Van Gaal made the football world laugh.

FELLAINI’S MASOCHISM

When  Manchester United faced would-be champions Leicester City in late April, much of the post-match talk surrounded a single moment. During a set-piece, Marouane Fellaini and Robert Huth were involved in a mini-scuffle which escalated when the Leicester defender pulled the Belgian’s hair, with Fellaini retaliating by throwing an elbow.

The BBC approached Van Gaal to hear his thoughts on the matter but what followed was a somewhat unexpected response…

MIKE SMALLING

Speaking at a pre-season press conference, Van Gaal was questioned about Wayne Rooney and explained the rationale behind his choice to keep the No. 10 as United’s captain. He added that Michael Carrick was the second-choice captain and then introduced the media to a newly christened centre-back.

ACROBATIC KICK

Although the incident when Van Gaal hurled himself to the ground against Arsenal after arguing with fourth official Mike Dean is the subject of countless memes and jokes, it wasn’t the first time the Dutchman sought to get his point across on the touchline.

During the 1995 Champions League final against AC Milan, France international Marcel Desailly raised his leg dangerously and was only inches away from grazing Ajax attacker Jari Litmanen. The referee allowed to play go on uninterrupted but Van Gaal was having none of it, offering his own interpretation of the Rossoneri defender’s challenge before being ordered to restrain himself in the dugout.

GENITAL EXPOSURE

Managers at times go to great lengths to motivate and boost player morale; while at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola reportedly moved players to tears, after creating a film montage interspersed with clips from Russell Crowe’s Gladiator ahead of the Champions League final against Manchester United in 2009.

Van Gaal certainly had his own eccentric manner and took matters into his own hands, quite literally. World Cup-winner Luca Toni didn’t see eye-to-eye with the Dutchman during his Bayern Munich stint, later telling Bild: “Van Gaal simply didn’t want to work with me, he treats players like interchangeable objects.

“The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls. He demonstrated this literally [by dropping his trousers]. I have never experienced anything like it, it was totally crazy. Luckily I didn’t see a lot, because I wasn’t in the front row.”

Toni wasn't van Gaal's biggest fan.

PATRONISING PAT

The pressure was mounting on Van Gaal at Manchester United in early 2016 after his side suffered a defeat to Southampton. Injuries to Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young contributed to Van Gaal’s defensive woes, leading one journalist to ask whether a move for out-of-contract Ashley Cole might be on the horizon. In response, Van Gaal said “he didn’t play for a year” before patronisingly patting the journalist on the cheek.

ACTING ON TV

Van Gaal was never one to pass up the opportunity to express his own brand of humour, and also demonstrated that he can do more than manage football clubs. In 2009, he left viewers and the media puzzled after appearing on a TV segment with Dutch presenter Kees Jansma.

Offended he wasn’t considered for future broadcasts, he voiced his rage before walking off the set in what appeared to be a shockingly ill-tempered response. It was later revealed that it was all a ruse and the clip was produced for promotional purposes. Well played, Louis.

THE GREAT SPEECH

While at Bayern Munich, Van Gaal was a very happy man after clinching the German domestic double in 2010 and produced a memorable speech from atop the balcony of Munich City Hall.

He began by thanking the women assembled before enthusiastically explaining why his squad was probably the best there was in Europe at the time. United fans may remember a similar instance at the club’s Player of the Year awards, when he profusely thanked the saxophone player and teased Ryan Giggs throughout the ceremony.

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IN PICS: European football round-up - Zlatan saves United

Sport360 staff 15/01/2017

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late header saw a thrilling clash between bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool end in a pulsating 1-1 draw.

Unlike October’s drab, goalless draw at Anfield, the 50th Premier League meeting of these sides lived up the pre-match hype.

Jurgen Klopp’s men looked set to give the hosts a bloody nose after James Milner thumped home a first-half penalty, but United showed impressive resolve and forced a late leveller through Ibrahimovic.

A draw was probably fair given how the match panned out, albeit the result does little to boost either side’s title chances.

Pep Guardiola refused to blame his humiliated Manchester City stars after they crashed to a dismal 4-0 defeat against Everton on Sunday.

City’s wretched effort at Goodison Park condemned Guardiola to the heaviest league defeat of his glittering managerial career.

But, publicly at least, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss wasn’t angry with his expensively assembled team and he insisted the chastening afternoon could have gone differently if City had taken their early chances.

“We created enough chances in the first half to score. After what happened we were not able to score and Everton had one chance and scored,” Guardiola said. “They scored straight after half-time and that is tough mentally for the players.”

City’s fourth defeat in their last eight league games leaves them trailing 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, with even a top four finish suddenly far from certain.

Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas put Everton in control at Goodison Park before teenager Tom Davies scored his first goal for the club and debutant Ademola Lookman completed the rout after coming on as an 89th minute substitute.

In Italy’s Serie A, Roma strengthened their grip on second with a 1-0 win away to Udinese thanks to Radja Nainggolan’s effort.

Meanwhile, in Ligue 1, French pacesetters Nice slugged out a 0-0 draw with rock bottom Metz.

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Chelsea down Leicester, Barca stay on Madrid's tail

Sport360 staff 14/01/2017

ENGLAND

Chelsea made light of Diego Costa’s controversial absence as the Premier League leaders cruised to a 3-0 win at reigning champions Leicester City on Saturday.

Wing-back Marcos Alonso was their unlikely goal hero with a brace — just his second and third goals for the club — either side of half-time before fellow Spaniard Pedro Rodriguez completed the scoring.

That gave Antonio Conte’s men a comfortable win despite the absence of leading scorer Costa amid widespread reports of a training-ground row with fitness coach Julio Tous.

The Brazil-born Spain striker is also thought to be the subject of interest from China, although Conte claimed before kick-off that his omission from the squad was down to a back injury.

Tottenham Hotspur climbed into second place after Harry Kane claimed a hat-trick in a 4-0 stroll against West Brom.

The England striker, who became a father for the first time last weekend, struck three times and Gareth McAuley put through his own goal as Mauricio Pochettino’s side recorded a sixth successive league win.

The only low point for Spurs was an ankle injury that forced centre-back Jan Vertonghen off midway through the second half. Pochettino said the early signs looked “very bad”.

Arsenal moved above Liverpool — who visit arch rivals Manchester United on Sunday — on goal difference after a pair of own goals helped them to victory at struggling Swansea.

Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock in the 37th minute, slamming home his fifth goal in five games after Mesut Ozil’s header hit Alfie Mawson.

Alex Iwobi drew own goals from Jack Cork and Kyle Naughton early in the second half before Alexis Sanchez sealed victory with a 73rd-minute volley that took his tally for the campaign to 14 goals.

LA LIGA

Luis Suarez scored twice and Lionel Messi continued his sensational form as Barcelona moved to within two points of La Liga leaders Real Madrid with a 5-0 rout of Las Palmas.

Madrid remain very much in pole position, though, with two games in hand, the first of which comes at third-placed Sevilla on Sunday.

Suarez opened the scoring after just 14 minutes, but Barca had to wait until early in the second-half to double their lead when Messi scored for the seventh straight game.

And Barca turned their domination into further goals as Suarez’s second, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal’s first goal for the club rounded off the scoring.

Atletico Madrid remain four points behind Barcelona in fourth as they ground out a 1-0 win over Real Betis in a forgettable encounter at the Vicente Calderon.

Argentine international Nico Gaitan got the only goal after just eight minutes as he stretched to turn home Sime Vrsaljko’s deflected cross at the back post.

LIGUE 1

New boy Julian Draxler produced a brilliant first-time finish to give Paris Saint Germain a 1-0 win at Rennes on his Ligue 1 debut for the champions.

The victory lifts PSG level second with Monaco on 42 points, two behind table-toppers Nice, who host lowly Metz Sunday, while the Monegasques face a tough trip along the coast to Marseille.

The 2014 World Cup winner Draxler, 23, and freshly arrived on a 40 million euros ($42 million) transfer from Wolfsburg, looked at home in his PSG shirt from the kick off.

And when the goal came it was the third time he and Italian midfielder Marco Verratti had teamed up to pressure the goal as Unai Emery’s team, who face Nantes next week, start to gel.

Julian Draxler celebrates with his teammates after scoring.

Julian Draxler celebrates with his teammates after scoring.

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