Louis van Gaal has had a few years to forget. The Dutch manager was held in high regard in the game, but a disastrous spell at Manchester United saw his reputation eroded somewhat, and now things have got worse for him, with the blame for the Netherlands’ decline being put at his door.
Former Oranje midfielder Mark van Bommel – who was capped 79 times – has been speaking to French newspaper L’Equipe, and his verdict on his nation’s struggles won’t make nice reading for Van Gaal:
“I think France-Netherlands in March 2014 was a real turning point,
“Normally, Louis van Gaal opted for a 4-3-3 system, but during that game, he suddenly went to a 3-5-2 that changed everything.
“Yes, with that set-up our national team reached the World Cup semi-finals, but looking back, I think some of the current problems come from that change in tactics. It’s in 4-3-3 that the Netherlands won things.
“We’re now too dependent on Arjen [Robben]. In Brazil, it was he who sent us into the semi-finals, because he was in the best form of his life.
“But to be so dependent on one player is never a good sign. Above all, the whole team has to work.
“They’re too romantic. They don’t have enough of a winning mentality. They prefer playing well to winning.”
As Van Bommel alluded to, LVG did a good job with the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup using a 3-5-2 set-up before being poached by Manchester United to replace David Moyes.
Since then, the famous nation have endured a torrid time, with failure to qualify for EURO 2016 seen as a disaster. The Dutch finished fourth in their group, behind the Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey.