• Premier League

Van Gaal branded 'difficult' by City chief

ESPN staff
May 2, 2014
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Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano has risked sparking a potential row with neighbours United by claiming "people don't like" their prospective new coach Louis van Gaal.

It is believed United will confirm the Dutchman's appointment as David Moyes' permanent successor following the final home game of the season against Hull on Tuesday.

But Soriano, who previously worked at one of Van Gaal's former clubs Barcelona, believes the 62-year-old is confrontational and has a habit of turning players against him.

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Louis van Gaal is a "genius", says Mehmet Scholl © PA Photos
  • Mehmet Scholl, who won eight Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich and was a coach under Louis van Gaal with the German giants, has also fired a warning to Manchester United.
  • The former Germany international believes the Dutchman is a "genius coach" who will guarantee success for United - but senior players who don't stick by him will face the consequences.
  • "He's very strict and severe," Scholl told the Guardian. "So the players just have the chance to follow him or they are out and he takes the next players. He's very good with young players. I think everywhere he was he had some problems with big players and the staff.
  • "There are 26, 27 players and he is looking for 14, 15, 16 to follow him. His thing is not the motivation [man-management]. He's good in motivation but this is not his main character thing.
  • "His thing is really working on the pitch - that's brilliant. And that's how the players learn. You know by yourself that if you learn from somebody you are curious, you want to learn more.

"If you treat your people badly, they remember," he said. "One day you make an error and they kill you. I've seen this in many clubs.

"Louis van Gaal has been a very good coach in many clubs but his style is very difficult. The same thing happened to him in Barcelona as in Bayern Munich.

"He is very tough, people don't like him, but he wins. And one day you don't win - and when you don't win, everybody that is angry with you will come back to you and try to kill you.

"In the movies this works, in real life it doesn't."

Although they were made before Van Gaal emerged as the favourite for the United job, Soriano's comments have the potential to cause friction with City's fiercest rivals.

But Soriano, who has overseen the coming and going of Roberto Mancini and the hiring of Manuel Pellegrini, also had some advice on how to appoint a new manager.

"Before you decide how to manage your team, decide what they need," Soriano said.

"Do you need to be more direct? Do you need to delegate more? Do you need to be more of a coach? Are you able to manage people? How good are you? How much do you know about your job? How can you be a leader if you don't manage people well and don't know what you are talking about?

"Football is a complex sport. It's complicated - very complicated. Everybody needs to know what to do - what he is expected to do.

"One thing I have learned in football is that leadership is a very difficult thing. You need to choose your leadership style based on what your team needs, not your character. This is counter-intuitive.

"People think a good leader is someone with character. I say a good leader is someone who can listen to the team, understand the kind of leadership that a team needs and apply it."

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