West Ham’s draw with Manchester United gave Sam Allardyce a chance to get back to what he does best: defending his own managerial credentials, taking a cheap shots at more renown managers, this time Louis van Gaal. He criticized the Manchester United boss for playing long balls, but did it in that “I’m not saying… I’m just saying,” backhanded compliment way people use when they’re gunning for someone’s job.
Van Gaal fired back in a press conference today, but did it in the most Dutch way possible: with a series of well-organized passing charts, and comprehensive statistical analysis. This wasn’t exactly a “shots fired!” situation, but van Gaal’s response was still beautiful. One, because you know he absolutely thought he was bossing the situation. He was in front of those cameras thinking, “When I hit them with these numbers and an overly pedantic breakdown of what long ball really is, fam… shut it down!” Secondly, because the team press staffer sitting next to him offered the saddest “Sorry about my friend, he’s drunk” grimmace while passing off the charts to the media.
How did van Gaal get to the point where he thought it was necessary to publicly respond to Allardyce? The Dutchmaster was probably sitting at the barber shop — waiting to get his Paulie Walnuts fade tightened up — when his boy Lars came in with a copy of the Mirror, like “Did you see this shit?” A confident man would be able to look at the Premier League standings, glance at his own Wikipedia page, maybe make an unnecessarily large bank withdrawl and keep it moving. Not van Gaal. Not today.
“Louis, give me your face. Let me remind you how to press conference.”
Maybe it’s been long time since someone called van Gaal a genius to his face, because he’s clearly feeling insecure. He’s being fueled by negative reinforcement and is looking for validation in all the wrong places. A man is in bad shape when Microsoft Office graphs are his chosen methods of conflict resolution.
José Mourinho would never do this. If they care about him, van Gaal’s friends need to step in and show him some clips of his former pupil so he can remember how to properly respond to criticism from lesser foes.