• World Cup

Van Gaal leaves Netherlands on high note

ESPN staff
July 13, 2014
Louis van Gaal will now be heading to Manchester United © Getty Images

Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal never wanted to play in a third-place game - and he didn't change his mind after his side controlled Brazil 3-0 on Saturday.

In the build-up to the game, Van Gaal spoke out against the need for a third-place game. Asked after the match if his opinion had changed with a victory, Van Gaal said, "Of course I have not changed my mind. This match should have never been played. It's not easy to build up a squad in three days."

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Van Gaal had been particularly upset that the Netherlands, who lost their semi-final on Wednesday, had one fewer day to prepare than Brazil, who lost on Tuesday.

"For us, this match came very early. In three days, we had to build up the squad again," he said on Saturday. "Our objective was to go for first place. That is disappointing, but somehow, you have to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that we could go for third place.

"Despite the resistance of Brazil and the referee's decision, we won. We can look back on a successful tournament."

The Dutch became famous for their Total Football style in the early 1970s, and Van Gaal said he was proud that his team's plan of action - the "Holland School" as he called it - could be seen as just as worthy.

"We were able to show a new type of football, at least, from Holland," he said. "After today, players will think it's worth it. That is the best possible feeling a coach can have."

Arjen Robben, who was named man of the match after drawing the Netherlands' opening penalty, disagreed with his coach on the need for a third-place game, saying he welcomed the opportunity to play.

"I think this was the best way to end this tournament," Robben said. "We fully deserved third place. Nobody expected Holland to be in the last four. For us, it was a very good game."

Robben had another reason to want to play one more game. At age 30, Saturday's match may be the last he plays in the World Cup, though he wouldn't reveal his future plans with the national team.

"We have to wait and see," he said. "As long as I enjoy it and the body functions well, I will continue to play for the national team. We'll start preparing for the Euros in 2016 and that will be a new challenge."

Van Gaal's time with the Netherlands, is definitely over, however, as he will now take charge of Manchester United full time.

"There will always be a place in my heart for these 23 players and the members of my staff," Van Gaal said. "If you have to work together for more than nine weeks and they have to consult with me day in, day out, then hats of to that if you can keep it up. They're great people, but my players were even better.

"I hope the group in Manchester will become like this one. We all have to sing from the same hymnbook at United. At least, we hope so. All is well that ends well."

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