Louis van Gaal and Virgil van Dijk in war of words over Dutch style of play


Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal has hit back at captain Virgil van Dijk after the Liverpool star suggested he was not a fan of their style of play.

The Dutch boss decided to respond after Van Dijk made comments about their footballing philosophy, following their 4-2 friendly victory over Denmark on Saturday. The 30-year-old defender played the whole 90 minutes in Van Gaal’s 3-4-1-2 setup but was far from his assured normal self.

There was a heavy influence from the Premier League in the exhibition match, with Tottenham’s Steven Bergwijn netting a brace, with Nathan Ake heading home and former Man United forward Memphis Depay scoring a penalty for the hosts. Christian Eriksen marked his Denmark comeback with a consolation strike after Jannik Vestergaard’s early header, although the midfielder’s night was ruined when he was struck by a coin.

But despite playing some scintillating football on the pitch and coming away with a convincing victory, Van Dijk spoke of his dissatisfaction with the team’s tactics. The centre-back was part of the back three in a 3-4-1-2 formation, but revealed he plays his best football in a 4-3-3 formation — the same setup Liverpool use under Jurgen Klopp.

“Do I like the system? Well, I’m still in favour of 4-3-3 but I’m not the national coach and the national coach has a very strong opinion about it,” Van Dijk said.

And when it was put to Van Gaal, 70, that his own player had undermined his own tactics, the manager provided a cold-blooded response: “I know he has that preference, he always said this publicly,” he said, as quoted by The Mirror. “We already had this debate when I came here. The manager decides the tactics.”


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