Louis van Gaal's friends and foes: a who's who guide

Liam Canning divides up the modern footballing world...

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It’s fair to say that Aloysius Paulus Maria (that's 'Louis' to you and us) van Gaal has earned his marmite reputation. You either love him, and share a special bond with him, or hate him and talk to the media about the injustices the Dutch boss treated you with when in charge. FourFourTwo takes a look at the Manchester United’s friends and foes. Buckle up...

Friends of LVG...

LVG's friends

Thomas Muller

Thomas Muller

“Van Gaal and I have a relationship that goes beyond that which is normal between a player and a coach.”

After handing Thomas Muller his debut in 2009 with Bayern Munich, Van Gaal and the Germany international have stayed close ever since. The manager knew his player's potential even from a young age.

Louis van Gaal and I have a relationship that goes beyond that which is normal between a player and a coach

- Thomas Muller

Van Gaal has definitely made quite an impact on people’s careers – whether good or bad, that depends on the player – but, for the World Cup-winning German, the guidance from the Manchester United coach has been priceless to him and has set him off on a trophy-winning career. Muller once stated: "Van Gaal also had a huge effect on my development. I am very grateful to him." It's well documented that the Dutch boss has tried to lure his former protégé to Manchester. 

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

Louis van Gaal: “Mourinho thought he’d been promised the youth academy job [at Barcelona] and even that he might be the next manager and hadn’t been told. He was so angry and shouted so much about not being consulted that I was impressed. On that day he was a Special One and because of that I hired him.”

Jose Mourinho: “Our families are really close too, so we have much more than football.”

Our families are really close too, so we have much more than football

- Jose Mourinho

Van Gaal and Mourinho first met at a press conference while the Dutch manager was being unveiled as the new Barcelona manager. The now-Manchester United chief stated that he was impressed with Jose’s fight and passion towards football – a major factor in why Van Gaal immediately hired him. They worked together for three years and then eventually went their alternate ways. However, Mourinho claims that they still keep in touch and they’re more than just ‘football friends’. 

FEATURE When Jose met Louis: how the pair learned to love one another at Barcelona

Xavi Hernandez


Xavi: “Van Gaal taught me a lot. He told me, ‘You are better than Zidane’. I told him thanks, but not to get carried away. I have had great coaches. We were very unjust with him, he was a great coach.”

Van Gaal gave the football world a Xavi Hernández. And for that, we are eternally grateful. In 1998, against RCD Mallorca, Xavi was set free in a Barcelona strip on the football field. Van Gaal was unpopular at Barça and didn't form many long-lasting relationships there, but he made a close friend in Xavi and formed a companionship which has held strong until this day. Xavi’s former manager featured in his farewell video as the Barcelona veteran said his goodbyes to set off for a new adventure with Qatari club Al Sadd.