Holland coach Louis van Gaal's relaxed approach pays off as World Cup holders Spain are destroyed in Salvador
Louis van Gaal belied his dictatorial reputation by allowing his Dutch squad to prepare for Friday’s 5-1 humiliation of Spain by spending the morning with their wives and children.
Holland stunned the footballing world by inflicting the heaviest defeat on world champions Spain for 51 years in Salvador.
And Van Gaal, due to take charge of Manchester United following the end of Holland’s World Cup campaign, revealed that he eased the pressure on his players by inviting their families to the squad’s Hotel Deville base on Friday morning.
“My principle is to look after the overall picture and person – the player and his psyche,” Van Gaal said. “So I gave permission for the wives to visit the hotel and for the players to see their kids.
“That doesn’t meant it is the reason for their victory, though. I told the players there would be times the family would visit them and this was one of them.”
The Dutch have spoken of their greater harmony within the squad in Brazil than in previous tournaments, with the Oranje having a reputation for bitter rows during major tournaments.
And Van Gaal admits that his players have embraced the tactical changes imposed on them in recent weeks, with Holland playing an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation in the build-up to the tournament before defeating Spain with the same system.
“This result was about the dedication of the players to execute the system with conviction,” Van Gaal said. “It is very difficult to play us apart.
“Of course, if you want to take risks and Spain did that, but you will come against the Dutch way of playing and this is what happened.
“The Spanish league is the strongest league on planet Earth, so that means you must overcome resistance.
“Almost all of them have won awards and prizes. I, we, the Dutch staff has made sure that our team is fit and in these conditions, in this humidity, you really need to be fit.”