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It's a Premier League War for super smart van Gaal

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New Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal attends a news conference at the club's Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, northern England, July 17, 2014. Picture: Reuters/Nigel Roddis.

New Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal attends a news conference at the club's Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, northern England, July 17, 2014. Picture: Reuters/Nigel Roddis.

New Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal attends a news conference at the club's Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, northern England, July 17, 2014. Picture: Reuters/Nigel Roddis.

LOUIS Van Gaal is going to war at Old Trafford. His personality, his vision and his philosophy all require him to meet the challenge of the Premier League head-on and that is just what he has done.

Van Gaal is a super smart operator. From the moment he was announced as Manchester United manager, he has managed his circumstances brilliantly.

His position as Dutch boss gave him breathing space and time to think which he used very well and the fact that Holland had a good World Cup finals in Brazil didn't do him any harm either.

That said, I think his work in Brazil was overrated. Some of it was a bit too gimmicky for my liking.

He was tagged a genius when he brought on Tim Krul for Jasper Cillessen in the quarter-final penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica and won yet nobody said much about the fact that used up all his subs before he could do the same in the semis against Argentina and lost.

To be fair to Van Gaal, he didn't label himself a genius. It was media hype which celebrated him as some kind of football magician.

But there was one very big decision he made in Brazil which gives me cause for concern and that was the position he chose for Wesley Sneijder.

One of the best playmakers in the game, Sneijder had a peripheral role in the finals and was never played in his best position. For me that is rule number one.

A manager must make the best use of the players he has and for me, that meant playing Sneijder in central midfield where he could bring his well-proven skills into play. I think Holland might have done much better in Brazil if van Gaal had done this.

I also have a very clear memory of a day in Dublin 13 years ago when van Gaal lost the plot on the touchline in Lansdowne Road and threw strikers at Mick McCarthy's Ireland in a desperate attempt to claw back a one-goal deficit.

Some would say that it was his arrogance which tripped him up for that game and that may be the case but for me it was just bad management.

Did he learn a lesson that day? I'm not so sure. But either way, his CV since has been impressive and despite these reservations that I have, I still rate him highly as a manager and I think Manchester United will be competitive in the Premier League this season because of him.

Players who wouldn't play for Moyes will be bursting a gut to prove that failure last term was about the manager.

This is very relevant because van Gaal wasted no time in driving straight through the notion that "Class of '92" should have role to play in his regime. He kept Ryan Giggs but I don't expect that to last too long.

Van Gaal has pinned his colours to Wayne Rooney and I see that as a smart bit of business. He brought Robin van Persie with him at international level and made him Dutch captain. So, he clearly had him onside from the start.

No doubt van Persie would have fancied the armband at Manchester too but van Gaal decided that he needed to bring Rooney inside the tent and his strong relationship with his international skipper allowed him to do that.

Another smart move he made was to publicly announce that he needed three months to figure things out at Old Trafford, something which Moyes didn't do until it was very obvious that he was struggling.

Van Gaal put in a nice provisional ball and then managed to knock out a run of solid pre-season wins which made him look even better.

I don't pay much attention to those wins other than to say that it's better to win friendlies than to lose them and that the real test begins this weekend.

Many have wondered about the squad he inherited and the fact that he hasn't brought in many new players but I think he has enough to be competitive at the top and his feet are under the table for a while he will look to buy.

He certainly needs a few defenders and I would be surprised if Manchester United don't sign someone in that area before the widow close in a few weeks.

He will bring an interesting contribution to the Premier League and he has more than enough self-belief and ego to compete on a level playing field with the other big names like Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers.

He is an authoritative figure and bows to no man. More importantly, he has shown no urge to doff the cap to Alex Ferguson, something Moyes felt the need to do every other day.

It was Moyes' greatest mistake and one which cost him as job and, indeed, his reputation.


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