“That is typical Barcelona. If all is well and you make great contributions, as Frenkie de Jong has shown over the past two years, then there is nothing to worry about. When things go bad, people in Barcelona always look for the foreigners. In this case, the coach is also a foreigner and a Dutchman. I have experienced that too. History repeats itself. You shouldn’t be surprised by that,” said the national coach of the Dutch national team in Zeist on Sunday.
“I think Frenkie handles that very well. And Ronald Koeman and Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay too. I don’t think that’s the biggest problem,” continued Van Gaal, who stood up for his players. “When I look at the data from Memphis in training and matches… I’ve never had a striker like this. Someone who walks so much and goes deep and also gets into the ball. That is commendable.”
Van Gaal had some criticism of Frenkie de Jong after Friday’s game with Latvia. “Sometimes I think, you walk too much. I didn’t think he had the ball against Latvia, I told him that.”
Game animal Van Gaal awaits invitation to ’30 Seconds’
Van Gaal enjoys the way the players of the Dutch national team interact with each other. The national coach said that on Sunday when he was asked, following an earlier press conference, how the planned relaxation evening at the Orange had gone.
“We have a relaxing evening almost every night. It’s unbelievable with this group,” said Van Gaal. “For example, last night they played ’30 Seconds’. I am a game animal myself. You know how that game goes? Then there are twenty players, I counted them, standing around a table. Then they have to turn such a card and then they have to depict something.”
Reserve captain Georginio Wijnaldum corrected the trainer. “It is explaining,” said the midfielder. “Ah, okay,” said Van Gaal. “Did I participate myself? No, I haven’t been invited yet. But it’s really great. It’s a great group.”
In addition to his players, Van Gaal is also happy with the Dutch supporters. “The stadium is three-quarters full on Monday evening. I think it’s great that we can still attract the fans against a team like Gibraltar. For that reason alone I think we should score more goals than that one Friday against Latvia.”