Fifa World Cup 2014

Van Gaal admits that he almost became Tottenham manager

Netherlands coach who will join Manchester United next month says he came "very close"

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 10:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 10:33pm

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal revealed for the first time that he turned down the chance of taking charge at Tottenham last season.

Van Gaal, the Netherlands coach, will join United after the World Cup in Brazil.

Ahead of the Netherlands' friendly against Wales at the Amsterdam Arena tonight, however, he took time out from his international role to admit just how close he was to taking the Spurs job when Andre Villas-Boas was dismissed as manager at White Hart Lane in December.

I was a fan of Spurs during my childhood. Those fantastic white shirts and Jimmy Greaves
Louis van Gaal

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy had talks with van Gaal, but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss eventually rejected the approach and then chose United over the north Londoners after David Moyes was dismissed as Old Trafford chief in April.

"I came very close. Very close. As a little boy I was a fan of Tottenham Hotspur with the team of Jimmy Greaves, when he was the champion," Van Gaal said.

"Jimmy Greaves was my idol. So I was very close. Why? Because I was a fan of Spurs during my childhood. Those fantastic white shirts and Jimmy Greaves."

Van Gaal refused to talk about his impending move to Manchester as his focus lies with the Netherlands ahead of their World Cup opener against holders Spain in Salvador on June 13.

Yet the 62-year-old did offer an insight into his management style and how he will cope with the likes of Wayne Rooney when he arrives at United.

Van Gaal has a reputation as something of a disciplinarian, but he claims he just wants to be loved by his players.

"I'm bothered about whether the players like me. It's very important," he said.

"I am a coach who wants a good relationship with my players. And I do everything to reach that level, but sometimes it is not reachable as the players are not open-minded and don't adapt to the norms that I put in the team.

"Most of the players I have managed are saying lovely things about me. There are also players who are very angry with me. Frank Ribery, Luca Toni, Hristo Stoichkov and Rivaldo.

"Rivaldo was nothing and I bought him and then he was a world player of the year. When you are not listening, you are out of the team, or I go out."

Van Gaal was also disappointed Wales stars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey were missing from Chris Coleman's squad, depriving his players of a tough pre-World Cup workout.

Bale has cited a leg injury but was pictured in Indonesia this week on a personal tour, while Ramsey, who scored the winner in the FA Cup final for Arsenal, is being rested.