Champions League-winning manager is perfect Hodgson replacement


Here we are again. Another humiliating exit from a major tournament for England and another slightly bewildered old man is left looking for a job, with Roy Hodgson joining Fabio Capello and Steve McClaren in having come nowhere close to living up to this nation’s admittedly exorbitant expectations.

The pool from which a replacement will be picked looks terrifyingly shallow. Gareth Southgate is favourite, despite one mediocre spell at Middlesbrough and an underwhelming period in charge of the Under-21 side being the extent of his CV. Some are even suggesting bronzed dance machine Alan Pardew, suggesting that the Three Lions’ failure was down to a lack of banter rather than planning and tactical nous.

With Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche still unproven at the highest level, there is no way that the FA can go for another English manager – we’ve got to look abroad again, at least until we start producing our own coaches. And when we do look abroad, we’ll find that one man stands head and shoulders above the rest. Arise, Sir Louis van Gaal.

The Dutchman’s status as a comedy figure in England following his spell at Manchester United is thoroughly undeserved – van Gaal ticks every single box that the new man needs, apart from the one about being from this little island.

van Gaal has managed successfully at international level in the past, leading the Netherlands to third place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This achievement was made all the more impressive by the Dutch’s failings since – they were an early victim of the Icelandic machine and failed to even qualify for this summer’s tournament.

He also has recent knowledge of Premier League football so will already have an idea of what players he rates and can use. Whilst I don’t subscribe to the idea of the manager having to be English, recent working knowledge of the league in which his entire talent pool players would clearly be beneficial.

Then there is van Gaal’s willingness to work with players on detailed patterns of movement and attacking shapes. This brought much ridicule at United, but a lack of any coherent way of playing was painfully obvious from England this summer. It may not be particularly exciting, but van Gaal would definitely ensure that everyone at least had some idea what they were supposed to be doing.

With Holland, the former Bayern Munich manager was able to get the best out of a relatively limited group of players by fitting them around the most ideal system. After Hodgson, a manager who famously stated that systems don’t matter, this would be one massively refreshing change.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he doesn’t appear to care at all what anyone else thinks. Every job that the recently sacked Manchester United boss takes, is done the Louis van Gaal way. In a country where everyone wants to be the manager, where more and more strikers have been shoehorned in on the back of public opinion, that is invaluable.

More than anything else, English football needs to be told some home truths and dragged in the right direction. It would almost definitely leave us kicking and screaming, but this country needs Louis van Gaal.

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