Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi has recalled and discussed some memories of life under Louis van Gaal.
Xavi played with Barcelona from 1998 until 2015 and was there for most of the two stints that van Gaal spent as the manager of the club. Van Gaal left the club after just six months during his second spell at the club after a string of inconsistent results and performances.
Xavi, a Barcelona club legend, recalls how the Dutch manager would berate him on the field to improve his performance: “I will remember him all my life, but for better not worse. He was very direct.
“One day he would bury you and humiliate you in front of the group and the next day he would tell me I was Zidane. That is the way he is and in time it has a positive effect.
“Under him I went from playing at Old Trafford to going to play at [third division] Alcoyano when he dropped me back down to Barca B. That is something that has been lost. Now if you are in the first team it’s is taken for granted that you will not go back down [to the reserves].
“That’s wrong. A kid of 18 years old has to, above all, play. That way when you get back in the first team you are more hungry than every to take your chance.”
Louis van Gaal tends to have a policy of pure honesty. This can work for or against him at times and it has lead to some spectacular fallouts during his managerial career.
Van Gaal has been criticised by his own players and Angel di Maria had a dig at his former manager having left for Paris Saint-Germaine.
If, as Xavi says, it works in the long-term, then Manchester United players and fans might not mind but the approach Van Gaal takes in developing character and player’s ability is a risky business that might not go down well all of the time.