At Louis van Gaal’s press conference this week we were able to witness one of the first of what likely will be many rucks between the manager and the press.
Ian Ladyman, the Liverpool supporting journalist from The Daily Mail, was goading Van Gaal about Manchester City, but the manager refused to be drawn.
Q:The British footballer is characterised as a man who plays on emotion and doesn’t play in the way you describe as much as the Dutch footballer does. Is that fair?
LVG: That is your opinion. You say it, then you say I have to say it.
Q: Is that an unfair statement?
LVG: I don’t know because I have to know the players first then I can judge. You can judge because you have been a journalist for many years and have seen the culture.
Q: From the outside what are your views of a British player?
LVG: What you have mentioned.
Q: So you share a similar view?
LVG: No, because I have already said the players under the direction of David Moyes are a lot of different to the players under the direction of Alex Ferguson, but also under the direction of me. But we shall have to wait and see. But from the outside it is fair to say that. But I don’t want to be judging as an outsider. I want to hear that and feel that but at the moment they are doing great.
Q: What do you think of the challenge of having such a big club like Manchester City in the same City, a team that has also won the title?
LVG: It does not bother me. Whether they are ten metres away or 30 km away.
Q: What do you think of what Manchester City have done over the last three years?
LVG: It is amazing because they were not a big club and now already Champions and they have also won the Cup in the last three years. They are knocking at the door but that is good for Manchester United also because where there is competition you can be proud when you are the champion at the end and maybe we will be the champions.
Q: City fans would argue that they have knocked at the door and opened it and closed it and now you have to knock at the door again and try and get back through it?
LVG: If you like to say that, then you have to write it down! I feel that he [looking round the table] likes to say that.
Q: But that’s their view – that they are on top…
LVG: I have learnt the word ‘entice’. You are enticing me. I said ‘provoke’ but Ryan [Giggs] said it should be ‘entice.’
Q: United fans are excited by the way you handled some of the Holland games in the World Cup? Changes of formations, changing of keepers for shoot-out etc?
LVG: It is also a little bit lucky when you do that! But of course you do those things for a good reason. Already I give this press conference with a lot of arguments [reasons] and I hope you can understand that.
Q: We had a manager before who we had a lot of arguments with…
LVG: I don’t mean arguments, I mean the reasons why. So it’s good that I explained that. I don’t have arguments with you – until now…. [laughs]
UNITED PRESS OFFICER: Sorry, we’ve got to go…
LVG [getting up}: Interesting eh? Interesting. You’re all coaches now…