Following another series of predictably sycophantic reports on Louis Van Gaal’s latest press conference, I have collated what happened for your convenience….
You could feel it in the room. A buzz. An essence. A sense of expectation rarely experienced within the stuffy confines of a media centre.
The sense that fireworks were imminent, a far cry from the snore-fest that accompanies any visit to United’s noisy neighbours down the road, a Pellegrini sound bite as rare as a misplaced Januzaj cross. This boring man. Back in the theatre of dreams, my eye caught that of Sam Wallace. A knowing nod from him spoke volumes. This was it, buckle in for the ride.
Louis, Louis wherefore art thou Louis?
And then in he came with his new protégé. His entrance was understated, as it always is with the Dutchman, a keen proponent of the Maoist philosophy of Chung Tao, which respects the entity of silence and careful travel. All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.
What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!
It wasn’t planned, but it felt right, a spontaneous acknowledgement from all the journalists present – we stood as one and applauded. Applauded what? The situation, the presence of giants and the return of United’s DNA in human form. An invisible force had hauled me and others to our feet and it felt natural.
Van Gaal, who probably speaks 17 languages fluently, maybe more, can express his desires and aims in many ways, and when he described Falcao’s sumptuous two-yard tap-in from the previous day’s training session you could almost smell the goal, such is his way with words, and he exudes a self-confidence that journalists find irresistible. Falcao shared the air of authority. A quality of English way beyond anything that the other South American nomad of these parts, that waster Carlos Tevez, who was still mono-lingual after seven years in England, the idiot god I hate City. And somehow he fits – you get the innate feeling he is at his spiritual home now. He looks good in red too.
“You suit the kit,” I said to him timidly after the press conference and the Columbian flashed a charming smile my way. I swear that for a brief moment in time I went weak at the knees.
It is Louis van Gaal’s habit to peer intently at the player sitting beside him at a press conference table. At one point he seemed keen to stroke his new signing, to express his confidence in his very being. He loves those who have powers of self-expression – a valued part of the Dutch “total person principle”, so fundamental to his philosophy. Vorsprung durch technik.
That is why Danny Welbeck had to go – he was not a total person. Van Gaal was blunt in why he was sold, and you can only admire such honesty in a manager, bereft of riddles and clues, he says it as it is, unlike that moribund entity down the road.
We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
Van Gaal was clearly proud that Falcao is embracing the mother tongue. He demands this from his disciples. … the spontaneous round of applause which once more burst outwards from the collective seemed only natural. One good turn deserves another, after all. Somewhere towards the rear of the room, there was a crash and as it turned out, a journalist from a regional publication had fainted. Here we saw the other side of Van Gaal, a fatherly, protective side that would happily have you nuzzling in his bosom, as he enquired to the wellbeing of the fallen comrade. And when he then relaxed and said he would be fine, we all knew that he was right instinctively we knew.
And then it was all over, like a heady blur. The press conference was brief – that is Van Gaal’s way, and his way rules. This above all: to thine own self be true. Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.
And now onwards to QPR. Hopes of redemption lie at Falcao’s feet. No pressure. And as the manager strode confidently from the arena, his arena, a PR lady tried to pass him a drink which he kindly refused. She tried again, to no avail, and seemed taken back at his rejection.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.