What he said:
“…You can’t arrange the chemistry of the team in two weeks. It needs time.”
Dutch footballing legend Johan Cryuff is sympathetic to his countryman Louis Van Gaal’s troubles in rebuilding Manchester United.
Speaking to the Guardian, he said:
“I don’t know because they almost bought and created a new team. So now you have to fix it together – the team itself. It’s not a question anymore about the quality of the players, or are they good enough. But to make a mixture of good players is very difficult.”
On United’s transfer policy:
“There should be a logic always, but the big problem is to manage all these players. It’s the same thing with Barcelona. They now have Suárez, Messi, Neymar – how do you play them together? If you see them individually then they are great players. It’s the same at Manchester United. Individually they are great but they have to play like a team.
Then you get another problem. They are all famous. They earn a lot of money both on and off the field. How can you create a team and bring all these egos together? The main goal for Manchester United is for them to play well – and not have a player saying, ‘I play well, I scored two goals’. Because if I score two goals but three goals go into our net then we lose. They provide [Van Gaal] with a lot of good players but he has to turn them into a team. And you can’t arrange the chemistry of the team in two weeks. It needs time.”
On whether it will take United a full season to regain their preeminent position:
“No, no. That’s too long. But it doesn’t mean they will win the league. But you can see a better performance every week and you can aim for a better fit as a team in the details. And [Van Gaal] is a person of details. So it could be possible that things work. But, once again, can these people develop their own game for the sake of the team? It’s not easy.”
On their respective soccer philosophies:
“No. Not much. We’re both Dutch and that is always a [shared] basis. But I always think of being in charge of the speed and of the ball. Maybe he knows more than me but I always want control of the ball. When I don’t have control of the ball what do I do? I press to get it back. It’s a way of defending. But more important is that I like to have the ball.
That’s why I believe in individual coaching sessions to prepare players properly. You have to take care of the individual for the benefit of the team – as our work with Guardiola showed.”
“Football is now all about money. There are problems with the values within the game. And this is sad because football is the most beautiful game. We can play it in the street. We can play it everywhere. Everyone can play it but those values are being lost. We have to bring them back.
In the Premier League the money is a problem but I don’t really know how to control it. If you look at England or even Spain you see the problems. How many England players are in the first four teams in the Premier League? How many Spanish forwards are playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid?”
On Pep Guardiola, whom Cryuff considers his natural successor (not Van Gaal):
“Yes, he’s got it. Normally I would say that the most important thing for a coach is that he [overcame] difficulties when he was young. Look at Guardiola and myself. Like me he was very thin and he had to take care of his technique. You see it with Iniesta and Messi too. They must do something quick otherwise they will never get there. It means that they are aware of all the details. You have to think quicker and see more things. And if you see more things you can help more people.”
What he really meant:
“It’s a slow reaction—a slow burn if you’d like to term it so. It takes time for the team to reach ignition.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Two Weeks Notice—that’s all coaches and players need.”