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Louis Van Gaal speaks on Jupp Heynckes, Uli Hoeness, and Robert Lewandowski

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The ex-Bayern Munich manager thinks the world of Heynckes and would have brought Robert Lewandowski to Manchester—if Bayern had let him.

 Louis van Gaal attends day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 6, 2017 in London, United Kingdom.
Louis van Gaal.
Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage

In an interview with Bild am Sonntag (via SportBild), former Bayern Munich manager Louis Van Gaal spoke in detail about Jupp Heynckes, Uli Hoeness, and whether or not the club will sell Robert Lewandowski. The interview comes just over two weeks after Van Gaal recounted his numerous disagreements with Hoeness during his tenure as Bayern manager, while offering the highest of praises for Heynckes.

Heynckes has been adamant that he will retire at the end of the season. Van Gaal insisted that the 73-year-old would be considered a “god” in Bavaria if he goes out on top, given how much he has done for the club:

If Jupp quits in the summer, that would make a lot of sense. I can’t imagine him continuing either. At his age—he’ll be 73 after all—it’s always better to stop at the peak of your career. He’s done that once already [i.e. in 2013, after winning the Treble with Bayern]. Now Jupp is back and that’s nice. But if he quits after this season, then he’ll be a god in Bavaria.

A lot of Heynckes’s success at Bayern has been, in part, a byproduct of a strong relationship with club president Uli Hoeness and CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Contrary to Heynckes, Van Gaal had a rocky relationship with Hoeness, and the two constantly quarreled. With Heynckes at the helm, Van Gaal feels, there is a clear sense of leadership and little interference from a power struggle with Hoeness:

What Jupp is doing now at Bayern again is fantastic. He’s the leader of this team, although Uli Hoeneß always thinks that he’s the leader of FC Bayern. That’s not true, though, because the coach is always the leader. With his personality, his philosophy, and his relationship with the players, Jupp makes the difference. Of course, now Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Hoeneß can also say in hindsight that it was a good decision to part ways with Carlo Ancelotti.

Van Gaal also said he feels as if the balance of power in Bayern’s front office could pose problems for Heyncke’s successor, especially if it’s a seasoned manager who has a specific modus operandi:

[It might] not [affect] a younger coach, because young coaches can deal with it better than experienced coaches. Someone like Julian Nagelsmann, for example, hasn’t won any titles as coach yet. He’s in a different phase of his life than Ancelotti, who has won almost everything during his career. That’s why Carlo didn’t do everything Uli and Kalle wanted. Successful coaches don’t want the bosses to meddle in their work.

Lastly, Van Gaal said he strongly believes that Bayern won’t sell Robert Lewandowski, despite the fact that he has been linked heavily to Real Madrid in recent weeks. The prolific Polish international is “irreplaceable” in Van Gaal's estimation. He is certain that no offer, no matter how handsome the potential transfer fee may be, will convince Bayern to let him go. In fact, Van Gaal conceded,

I would have loved to coach Lewandowski and wanted to bring him to Manchester United. The price for Manchester United was no problem, but Bayern didn’t want to let him leave.