Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal took journalists to task on Monday as he bristled at suggestions he wasn’t playing attacking football at the World Cup.
After his team beat Chile 2-0 to top Group B with three wins out of three, Van Gaal fired back questions at the press conference when asked about his counter-attacking set-up.
“Could you give me a definition of attacking football? That’s my question to you,” Manchester United-bound Van Gaal said to one journalist.
“I’m asking you, if you have such a clever question... If you’re going to ask me questions, I’m going to ask you questions.”
Opposing coach Jorge Sampaoli had also criticised the Dutch tactics, saying ”we wanted to play but the Netherlands were just closing down”. Van Gaal refused to comment.
But he did say that his strategies were simply designed to win. In a cagey game of little attacking endeavour, the Dutch struck twice late on through Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay.
“It’s all about winning so I use the system I think will let me win... that’s what I think football is,” Van Gaal said.
“You have to evaluate a strategy that will help you win, and this is the proof in the pudding. We’re not giving away games and we’re winning.”
Van Gaal added that he had used a similar 5-3-2 system to win the 2009 Dutch championship with AZ Alkmaar. At the World Cup, the Netherlands have beaten Spain 5-1 and Australia 3-2.
“This has nothing to do with the fact that you play more offensive or less offensive,” Van Gaal said.
“It simply has to do with the fact that my team, my group and staff always want to score one more goal than the other team.”
In a rejigged line-up, World Cup debutant Jeremain Lens was brought in for the suspended Robin van Persie and Dirk Kuyt was in an unaccustomed withdrawn role on the left.
The 33-year-old Fenerbahce forward said he had enjoyed his defensive role and was prepared to play there again. But he also hit back at suggestions of negative tactics.
“You can say what you want but a team that scores 10 goals in three games with an average of 3.3 goals is not really a defensive team,” said Kuyt.
“Chile wanted to attack us but they didn’t create many chances and in football the most important thing is who creates the most chances and who scores the most goals.
“And that’s what we did today.”