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Van Gaal: "I was a fan of Tottenham"

Manchester United's manager-elect nearly ended up at White Hart Lane, and it turns out that he was a childhood fan of the London club.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Yes, it hurts, but think back to the midpoint of last season. David Moyes still wasn't entirely doomed, but Tim Sherwood, Tottenham's managerial mascot, certainly was ... and Louis van Gaal was favourite to replace him. It turns out that not only was the Dutchman close to taking the job, but that he used to be a bit of a Tottenham fan.

It was very close. Very close. As a little boy I was a fan of Tottenham Hotspur with the team of Jimmy Greaves when he was the champion. Jimmy Greaves was my idol. They had fantastic white shirts. So I was very close.

It's worth pointing out that Greaves' Tottenham side were great fun. Greaves, along with Danny Blanchflower, Cliff Jones and other notables, won two FA Cups, the Cup Winner's Cup, and finished second in the First Division in 1962/63. That team scored 111 goals in the league. 111!

Van Gaal, though he's refusing to talk about United until after the World Cup, has also been talking about the importance of having a good relationship with his players.

I think it is very important. I am a coach who wants a good relationship with my players and I do everything to reach that level. Sometimes it is not reachable as the players are not open-minded and don't adapt to the norms that I put in the team. When you are not listening, always out, or I go out.

Sounds reasonable to us.

Most of the players [I have managed] are saying lovely things about me. There are also players who are very angry with me. Franck Ribéry, Luca Toni, Hristo Stoichkov and Rivaldo.

If you'll forgive tBB, we'll be spending the rest of the day imagining a row between Stoichkov and Van Gaal. Ooof.