Holland made it to the semi finals of the World Cup after a tense penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica and will now face Argentina in a battle to make it through to the final.
Despite the dramatic win in extra time, it was not a great performance from the Dutch team overall and there was a contrast in fortunes for those who will be at Old Trafford for the 2014-15 season.
Goalless in the knock-out stages of the World Cup, Van Persie was unable to get back to his goalscoring group stage form against Costa Rica.
Van Persie had a chance in the first half when he was put through by Wesley Sneijder but he could only fire straight at Keylor Navas.
The second half didn’t get any better for Van Persie and at times, he was often left isolated and cut a frustrated figure as he was found offside on more than one occasion but on one of the few times he was onside, he couldn’t provide the finish which is usually so easy for him.
Fortunately, class is permanent and Van Persie slotted home his penalty in the shoot-out to help Holland come out of a game which he dubbed a ‘rollercoaster’ with victory under their belt.
Up against Argentina, Holland will need Van Persie firing on all cylinders if they are to progress.
Van Gaal’s stock keeps getting higher by the minute. He may not have set up the Dutch as well as he had in previous matches but it was still a victory.
Holland’s 3-4-3 formation came unstuck against Costa Rica who simply refused to budge. Apart from early in the first half where Holland got some space on Costa Rica’s right hand side, the Dutch just couldn’t get close to a breakthrough apart from set pieces.
Sneijder forced a save from Keylor Navas and hit the post with two free kicks whilst another set piece ended with Blind putting a superb ball in which missed everyone, apart from Van Persie who had a shot cleared off the line.
All the while Van Gaal was sitting calmly. He did make some tactical errors throughout a game Holland really should have been able to win within 90 minutes but his key decision was an absolute master-stroke as he and Frank Hoek decided to put Tim Krul on for just the penalty shoot-out.
When Krul was spotted warming up on the touchline, many questioned what Van Gaal was up to. It was a bold and brave decision Van Gaal knew he would be praised for or slammed for, so it was a massive risk to do it but, inevitably, Krul made two saves to help Holland win.
What a decision.
If Van Gaal can be anywhere near that bold and successful at Old Trafford, then we’re all in for a treat.