Louis van Gaal's Bond with Robin van Persie Is an Advantage Moyes Never Had

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentMay 19, 2014


Louis van Gaal isn't daft. You don't win league titles in Holland, Spain and Germany if you are. Or the Champions League, for that matter.

The 62-year-old signed a contact with Manchester United on Monday, per BBC Sport, and as a new manager coming into a big club, his performance during his first day on the job was textbook. If, of course, a textbook existed for this kind of thing (it doesn't—ask David Moyes).

Appoint club legend as your assistant? Check. Call new club the "biggest" in the world? Check. Make clear your ambition to bring success back to said club? Check.

Not a "try" or "hope" in sight. Music to the Manchester United fans' ears.

In the end, it's just talk. But it's a good start.

Peter Dejong/Associated Press

The club statement announcing Van Gaal's appointment made mention of the Dutchman's new coaching staff. 

There were quotes from Ryan Giggs, the new assistant, and a few lines on the achievements of Frans Hoek, the goalkeeping coach, and Marcel Bout, the opposition scout.

But there is another relationship that could prove even more important for Van Gaal—the one with his international captain, Robin van Persie. 

Whether Van Persie is made captain at Old Trafford is inconsequential. It's only the English who seem to worry over what, essentially, is a ceremonial role.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 11:  Robin van Persie of Holland celebrates with Patrick Kluivert and manager Luis van Gaal after scoring their fourth goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifing match between Holland and Hungary at Amsterdam Arena on O
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

And regardless of whether the striker has a piece of elastic around his arm on a matchday, he's still an influential figure in the dressing room. He's the type of player new managers look to win over quickly.

Like Van Gaal's bullish opening address, it's something Moyes never appeared to achieve.

The new United manager has a head start with at least one of his key players. He's already built an understanding with Van Persie. 

Van Gaal has been Van Persie's international manager for the past two years. They attended games together when the former Arsenal striker was recovering from a knee injury in Holland. Their wives are friends.

Each man knows how the other one works. They understand what's expected. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 06:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Hull City at Old Trafford on May 6, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo b
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Van Gaal's success at Old Trafford is tied, in part, to what he can squeeze out of Van Persie. Their bond is an advantage Moyes never had.

It also gives Van Gaal an instant foothold in the dressing room. Van Persie is well liked, experienced and, significantly, one of United's best players. 

Walking into a new job, he's a good friend to have.

Van Gaal can't force a turnaround at United on his own. His success will be determined by the relationships he builds. With Giggs, with his players and with his staff.

But his job in the dressing room has been made easier by Van Persie's presence in it.

Like his first words as United's new manager, it's a good start.


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