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Van Gaal brings experience, winning ways to United

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 19, 2014 at 8:45 am •  Published: May 19, 2014
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Knowledgeable, opinionated, vastly experienced and sometimes prickly.

Sounds like Alex Ferguson, but the description also fits the man taking over at ailing Manchester United a year after the Scot retired.

Louis van Gaal is, like Ferguson, first and foremost a winner.

The 62-year-old Dutchman has secured league titles in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany as coach of storied clubs Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, giving him far more experience at the very top of European football than his ill-fated predecessor at Old Trafford, David Moyes.

His appointment by United comes nearly two decades after what is seen as Van Gaal's crowning glory, leading a talented Ajax team to the 1995 Champions League title. The scorer against AC Milan in Vienna was Patrick Kluivert, one of the many youngsters the former physical education teacher nurtured at Ajax who went on to become stars of European football.

During his successful period at Ajax in the 1990s, when he won three straight league titles as well as the Champions League and 1992 UEFA Cup, Van Gaal was sometimes perceived as arrogant and authoritarian and he did little to hide his annoyance at some reporters who followed the team.

In a famous 1996 tirade, he responded to a journalist's question by asking him: "Am I the one who's so smart, or are you so stupid?"

And Van Gaal gave the English media a taste of what is to come when they descended on him at a Netherlands training camp two weeks ago. When a BBC reporter asked him what he knew about Manchester United, he snapped back by saying: "That's a stupid question, I think. It's a stupid question."

Van Gaal was lured to Barcelona after his successes with Ajax and immediately won back-to-back league titles and spotted the potential in a young coach called Jose Mourinho.

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