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O, Louis: In Search of Louis van Gaal By Hugo Borst

Release date: 01st December, 2014
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press

List Price: £9.99
Our Price: £7.99
You Save: £2 (20%)
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The statement made by Louis van Gaal, which appears on this book’s front cover, could be interpreted as a deliberately provocative piece of marketing. “This book will sell well,” says the Manchester United manager. “Everything with my face on it sells well.”

It’s the type of arrogant, conceited, or perhaps realistic comment we would expect the man to make, for even after just a few months at Old Trafford, the Dutchman is clearly someone who doesn’t under-rate his ability, either as a manager or, it would appear, as a commentator on the economics of the publishing industry.

Yet at the risk of contradicting one of football’s most talented managers, I wonder whether this book will sell well.

It’s sub-title, In Search of Louis van Gaal suggests that the author eventually completes his voyage and discovers the real character behind the rather brusque, no-nonsense persona we’ve grown used to seeing in post-match interviews, but if Hugo Borst discovered anything new during his quest, he’s not sharing much with his readers.

Admittedly, there are tantalising snippets which throw some light on the man who could become a long-term fixture in English football.

For example, his humanity and strong sense of duty is evident in a tale Borst recounts from 2006 when van Gaal heard that a well-known Dutch referee was in hospital, seriously ill with cancer. The same night as he received the news, van Gaal and his beloved wife Truus drove to the hospital to visit the former referee where they chatted about incidents in different matches. The nursing staff didn’t bother enforcing any visiting hour rules, so the van Gaal’s stayed until 10.30pm. Three days later, the ref died.

Other anecdotes focus on van Gaal’s loyalty to friends, while we’re told that he lost “six million” in Bernie Madoff’s fraudulent ‘Ponzi’ scheme and a series of short essays concentrate on his role as national team manager at last summer’s World Cup.

These short snippets help readers form an idea of who the real LVG is, but after reading this book, the search for a comprehensive analysis of his character remains frustratingly incomplete.

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