Bild has posted an article with comments made by Louis van Gaal in an interview with the magazine 11 Freunde where the retired Dutch manager admits that his two years at Bayern Munich was made difficult due to his poor relationship with Bayern honcho Uli Hoeness. Van Gaal said,
Our characters do not correspond, and my life is too short to be with one, two or three people who are obviously very different from me.
The two clashing personalities did not see eye to eye on much. In Van Gaal’s words, the two could not fit together through a door. Van Gaal, through his authoritarian manner, got a bit of a bad reputation in Munich with Franck Ribery stating that he was a “bad man.”
Van Gaal excused his behavior by saying that it was possible he was a bit of an authoritarian. But, to achieve the common goal, the players simply had to follow the Dutchman’s philosophy.
Van Gaal continues that this was not always the case:
Ribéry and Luca Toni were unwilling to trust my philosophy, believing that their status gave them special rights.
Van Gaal continued by calling Ribery a “typical Frenchmen,” describing the retiring Bayern legend as stubborn and egocentric. Van Gaal compared Luca Toni and Ribery to his previous players, Franck Rijkaard and Luis Figo, who also had a special status but supposedly never asked for special treatment at Barcelona.
This was a very interesting interview with a man who, in my humble opinion, laid the foundation for Jupp Heynckes’ treble-winning side. Installing youth players such as Thomas Müller and Holger Badstuber into the starting eleven while also converting the winger Bastian Schweinsteiger into a central midfielder changed not only Bayern but German football history.
The fact that Van Gaal was not friends with either Uli Hoeness, Luca Toni or Franck Ribery is not exactly ground-breaking news. Van Gaal’s personality is notoriously strict, and his whole philosophy is epitomized by the old saying “my way or the highway.” The fact that superstars such as Luca Toni and Franck Ribery chafed under this philosophy is not surprising.
Van Gaal’s direct and honest approach in clashing with Hoeness is also not surprising, as it is not hard to imagine two titans in world football locking horns.
What is interesting about Van Gaal’s comments is that he considers dealing with the Bayern staff and players a harder task than his tumultuous time at Manchester United. The Dutchmen has previously criticized how United and Ed Woodward treated him. Hence, it comes as a bit of a surprise that his hardest moments were at the Allianz Arena.