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Man United’s Backroom Boys.

Louis van Gaal’s coaching team.

So much is known about the pedigree of Man United’s assistant manager Ryan Giggs, but not that much is known in England about the others who work under Louis van Gaal. Here I will try and shed some light on the men who have the ear of the Dutch maestro.

Albert Stuivenberg. Assistant coach.

Stuivenberg was born in Rotterdam, Holland in 1970 and played professional football for SC Telstar and HFC Haarlem. He was forced into premature retirement in 1989 due to torn cruciate ligaments. Following the forced ending to his playing career Albert moved into coaching with Feyenoord where he spent the next 13 years.

His next coaching position after leaving Feyenoord in 2004 was at the Al Jazira Club of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. His role was to head up their youth system. He spent two years coaching in the Middle East then he was offered a chance to return to the Netherlands to coach the national team under-17’s. He twice led the youth team to victory in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, in 2011 and 2012. This success lead to his promotion to manage the under-21s in 2013.

He joined United In July 2014 while Louis van Gaal was on World Cup duty in Brazil, and immediately set about working alongside Ryan Giggs in the coaching of the first team.

Frans Hoek. Goalkeeping coach.

Hoek was born in Hoorn, Holland in 1956. He started as an amateur goalkeeper at SV Always. He then played in goal at FC Volendam for more than a decade. In 1977 he achieved top flight football for the first time in the club’s history.

However, two seasons later they were relegated. In 1983 they regained promotion for the second time only to go down yet again in 1985. That’s when Frans decided to quit playing and consequently moved into coaching.

As a goalkeeping coach he worked at the top football clubs in Europe including Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He also helped out the Netherlands and Poland national teams.

Some of the keepers he has coached is an impressive list of number 1’s who’s who including former United favourite Edwin van der Sar, Stanley Menzo, Vítor Baia, Pepe Reina, Robert Enke, Lukasz Fabiariski, Thomas Kraft, Michel Vorm and new Red Devil Victor Valdes.

He worked closely with Louis van Gaal when he became manager at Ajax in 1991, and then followed him onto Barcelona an 1997. In 2000 he helped van Gaal with the the Netherlands national football team but returned to Barcelona two years later.

Hoek became the Polish team coach for four years which took in the 2006 World Cup Finals. In 2010 van Gaal came calling again, this time with a position to coach at Bayern Munich. At Bayern, Hoek had the duel role of goalkeeping and assistant coach.

When van Gaal left the Budesliga club to manage the Dutch national team for the second time it was only natural that Hoek went with him. Together they guided the Netherlands to the 2012 Euro Championships and of course the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup.

Hoek again teamed up with van Gaal again at Manchester United in the summer of 2014, replacing Chris Woods as the club’s chief goalkeeping coach.

Jos van Dijk. First-team fitness coach.

Jos van Dijk was born in Utrecht, Holland in 1957. (Not to be confused with Dutch player 1970’s Jan van Dijk.)  He has worked very closely with Louis van Gaal since his days at AZ Alkmaar following him to work at Bayern Munich and the Netherlands national team.

Eventually he moved to Old Trafford replacing Tony Strudwick in 2014 as a training physiologist in the summer of 2014.

In his role at United, he uses his experience as a member of the technical staff to coordinate with the medical and sports science departments daily. His main responsibility is the monitoring and analysis of the players’ fitness based on training and statistical data. It’s then up to van Dijk to pass all the information onto van Gaal in order for the manager to make decisions around training and individuals.

Marcel Bout. Chief opposition scout.

Bout was born in Haarlem, Holland in 1962.  Bout has worked at various clubs including  Feyenoord, FC Volendam, AZ Alkmaar, SC Telstar, FC Bayern Munich and the Netherlands national football as a coach and advisor.

Bout is another close cohort of Van Gaal’s having worked alongside the Dutch coach during his spell with AZ Alkmaar, which yielded the ‘Eredivisie’ championship success in 2009.

He joined van Gaal at Bayern Munich the following year where he largely worked as a match analyst, scouting their future opponents.

When van Gaal left Bayern, Bout remained with the Bavarianas in the role of assistant manager under head coach Andries Jonker then Jupp Heynckes. He left Germany in 2012 to become an assistant coach, technical analyst and scout with the Netherlands national under-21 football team.

Bout joined Louis van Gaal at Manchester United in the summer of 2014, becoming the assistant coach specialising in opposition scouting.

Max Reckers. Performance analyst.

Reckers was born in Eindhoven, Holland and is the youngest of the staff. He is known by his manager and colleagues as the ‘whizzkid’ of the coaching team.

His role as United’s performance analyst involves collecting and analysing all the players data. Together with the latest technology Reckers is able to provide a minute level of detail on players’ performances during matches. That information is passed on to the coaches and to the players themselves, in a bid to ensure continuous improvement.

He worked at  AZ Alkmaar, Bayern, Ajax and the Netherlands. He is thought of very highly by van Gaal, who often refers to Reckers as ‘like a son’.

There you have it the men most entrusted to Louis van Gaal’s inner circle, the men that have been with him through most of his managerial career and most certainly understand what makes him tick.

Let’s hope they can work their magic to return Manchester United to their rightful place as champions of England and Europe once again.

Miles Dunton.

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The transformation of Fellaini.

His bush like hair is the same if not a little shorter, he still possesses the same lanky run with his elbows turning like the sails on a windmill. However, there is one distinct difference about Marouane Fellaini and that is the boy can actually play football.

Brought to United from Everton by David Moyes on transfer deadline day in 2013 for far too much money. He was paraded in front of the media, and from the start the Belgium midfielder did not look comfortable, if anything a little sheepish in his new surroundings.

In his first season at Old Trafford he played as if he wanted to be somewhere else, most likely back at Everton, where the demands on his talents were lower. He was probably happy when he was sidelined with a wrist injury as it kept him away from the critical eyes of the fans and media.

When Louis van Gaal marched into the hot seat at United it seemed that Fellaini’s days were numbered. Poor form and low confidence combined with the departure of his ally Moyes, it was obvious to all that he would depart for pastures new.

But surprise, surprise that did not happen. Fast forward 6 months and here we have a completely new player at United. A midfielder whose all round game and team contribution has changed a thousand fold. Not only more tactically astute and aware of what’s happening in the game, but also contributing with goals.

The biggest question has to be how did this transformation happen? The answer is clear, Louis van Gaal and his coaches must have taken Fellaini aside and informed him that he has a talent that they can use to maximum effect and a future in the new systems being implemented. How else can the change be explained?

Is it really that simple? Yes, because in the modern game the players are too spoilt and sometimes they just need to be told how good and needed they are. The arm around the shoulder philosophy does actually work. There is no other possible explanation to the new found confidence and performance levels in Fellaini’s game.

 

His all round contribution has made it a little difficult for him to be left out of the side, and he seems to be higher up the pecking order than the likes of let’s say Ander Herrera. Also, his more artistic team mates seem to relish it when he’s on the park as he does most of the leg work. He has more importantly won the respect of the faithful fans.

It said a lot about his new found self-belief when he scored the opener at Loftus Road on Saturday and immediately ran straight over to the bench to celebrate with his compatriot Adnan Januzaj. He explained that it was because they are best friends in the squad, but I’d like to think it had a deeper message. I believe Fellaini was displaying an empathy for Januzaj due to his lack of chances in the side and telling him ‘If I can turn it around so can you.’ I would like to think that was the real reason.

I have a simple message for Mr.van Gaal. Whatever you have said or done to Fellaini to produce a completely different player to last season could you please do the same with Evans, Jones and Smalling. That would be just great.

Thanks to all as always.

Miles Dunton | FacebookTwitter

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Man United’s January buys.

The January transfer window is open and already Manchester Unied have made one new addition with the not so surprising news that Victor Valdes has agreed an 18 month contract to be David de Gea’s understudy!

I sincerely hope that is not the only business done by Mr.van Gaal this month as United have a desperate need for new defenders along with at least one quality midfielder.

With all the gossip flying around it got me thinking. Which players have United signed in this window in the past? Who turned out to be a shrewd bit of business? Who didn’t fulfill their potential?

Let’s take a look.

Lou Macari: 1973-1984 app: 400 goals: 97

The diminutive Scot arrived at Old Trafford in 1973 from Celtic for a fee of £200,000. Bought by manager and fellow Scot Tommy Docherty he became an instant hit, which continued throughout the seventies and into the eighties. He scored in his first game for United against West Ham United in a 2–2 draw.

Nearly signed for Bill Shankly’s Liverpool but fortunately his head was turned United’s way with a little help from Paddy Crerand.

Originally bought as a striker, Macari eventually found his niche in midfield. In a team that included Coppell, Pearson, Hill and Buchan, they soon brought United back into prominence after suffering relegation in 1974.

Doc’s Army was a team famous for it’s attacking play and kept the tradition of playing attractive football that the fans had been fed on from the Busby days.

He continued in an attacking midfield position under Dave Sexton and reached the FA Cup final in 1979 only to lose in the last minute to Arsenal. When Ron Atkinson took over from Sexton, Macari spent so long on the bench he gained the nickname of ‘The Judge’. In 1984 Lou left United to enter the world of management.

Probably most famous for the shot that rebounded of Jimmy Greenhoff’s chest before entering the Liverpool net to win the FA Cup for United in 1977. Still a fans favourite with his honest no nonsense views on everything United.

Joe Jordan 1978-1981 app: 126  goals: 41

Nicknamed ‘Jaws’ due to his toothless grin, this hard man center forward terrorised defences up and down the country with his fearless style of play, never afraid to fight for the cause by sticking his head into places it had no right to be. This never say die attitude cemented him as a terrace favourite. With his big team mate from Leeds, defender Gordon McQueen, they gave United a fearsome look.

Bought by then manager Dave Sexton from Leeds United for a fee of £350,000 which at the time was a new record for a deal between two British clubs.

Although trophyless during his time at United it wasn’t for the lack of trying. He was in the side that lost to Arsenal in the 1979 FA Cup final. Not really at the club long enough to warrant a legend tag, but those who remember him playing will do so fondly.

Diego Forlan 2002-2004 app: 98 (61 sub) goals: 17

Bought to United at a cost of £6.9 million on 22 January 2002 he is probably the unluckiest striker to have worn the red of United as he took an absolute age to get off the mark. Made a total of 13 Premier League and five UEFA Champions League appearances in the 2001–02 season but did not score. His first United goal, a penalty, came against Maccabi Haifa on the 18th of Sept 2002.

In every match the fans were willing him to score or for him to take every penalty. The Stretford End would have sucked his shots into the net if they could have.

Forlan earned immediate legendary status with a double in a victory at Anfield in December 2002. This was the match that the adoring Old Trafford faithful gave him his own terrace chant to do with the fact he comes from Uruguay and Scousers emotions. In the same season he finished third in the goalscorers charts behind van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer.

Ironically when he left United to join Villarreal he smashed records with his goals, Sod’s law really.

Andy Cole 1995-2001 app: 275 goals: 121

Signed by Fergie from Newcastle United, where he had a goal conversion rate of 81%, in a deal of £7 million which included Keith Gillespie, valued £1 million, going the other way.

This proved to be excellent business for United as ‘Cole the Goal’ went on to head the fearsome attack alongside Dwight Yorke which culminated in the Treble of 1999.

Cole played up front in three partnerships of note Cantona, Sheringham and Yorke. Rumoured to not get on quite so well with Cantona and definitely not on speaking terms with Sheringham, it is his partnership with Yorke that produced Cole’s best results. In the treble season they amassed a total of 53 goals between them in all competitions.

The partnership with Yorke proved particularly potent in the UEFA Champions League. Who can forget how their goals dismantled Juventus in the semi final 2nd leg in ’99 on the way to the glorious final.

Now working as an ambassador of United.

Les Sealey 1990-1991/1993-1994 app: 56

Cheeky Cockney Les Sealey was given his big chance at United when Ferguson dropped No.1 keeper Jim Leighton from the 1990 FA Cup final replay against Crystal Palace.

His heroics in goal that evening against an overly aggressive Palace team turned him into a cult hero with all United fans. After the final, ever the true gentleman, Sealey offered his winners medal to Leighton but thankfully the FA intervened and awarded both players medals.

His cult status was to get even higher a year later when he kept goal in the 1991 European Cup Winners Cup final against Barcelona. United ran out 2-1 winners and it was his save from Koeman’s free-kick that kept United ahead in the match.

Signed on loan from Luton Town he left United then returned in 1993 as back up for Peter Schmeichel but only making a couple of appearances.

Les sadly passed away in 2001 of a heart attack at the young age of 43. A great character and underrated for his talent as a keeper.

Louis Saha 2004-2008 app: 124 goals: 42

Unfortunately Saha’s United career was blighted by injuries, but when he was fit he certainly knew how to score goals.

Saha was transferred to United for a fee of £12.4 million in 2004 having scored 15 goals so far that season for Fulham.

Got off to a great career at Old Trafford scoring seven goals in ten starts. The next season was the start of his injury woes especially to his knee then hamstring. He began partnering  Ruud van Nistelrooy and then the teenage Wayne Rooney.

In 2006 a fully fit Saha was among the goals again and was on a roll. However, the injury jinx returned. When he returned the last time United had a forward line including Rooney, Tevez and a certain Ronaldo. He played mainly from the bench and when called upon did his job. His United career ended when he was sold to Everton in 2008.

A quality striker and his love for United was plain to see, it was only the injuries that held him back.

Patrice Evra 2006-2014 app: 329 goals: 10

Brought to Man United from AS Monaco for a fee of £5.5 million. Evra took his time to settle at the club making his debut in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City. So poor was his performance in that match Fergie took him off at half time.

Fast forward eight years and the Frenchman left United having won almost everything in the game. The only trophy to allude him was the FA Cup.

Probably his greatest achievement was winning the double of Premier League and Champions League in 2008.

At left back Evra became an important cog in United’s defence forming an understanding at the back with Ferdinand and Vidic. This was the rock that Fergie built his last great teams on. Evra had the honour of captaining United on many occasions and did so with a great gusto.

It was a sad day when he departed for Juventus as I’m sure he still had plenty of playing time in him and judging by our current defence his leadership and defensive awareness are being missed.

Nemanja Vidic 2006-2014 app: 300 goals: 21

Captured by United from Spartak Moscow for a bargain fee of £7 million at  the same time as Patrice Evra.

Vidic would go on to form a solid partnership with Rio Ferdinand in the middle of defence that was comparable to the double act of Bruce and Pallister over a decade before.

Vidic was famous for his no nonsense tough man approach to defending and was the perfect foil to Ferdinand’s more stylish play. Along with Evra at full back United enjoyed having a defense that they could build another great side upon. Fergie did just that by winning the double in 2008.

In his later years at the club he was awarded the captaincy, which was a popular choice with the fans. Again, like Evra he was released to early and could surely have helped the club through the transition period of the last year and kept some much needed stability.

Henrik Larsson 2007 Jan-March (loan) app: 13 goals: 3

Ferguson managed to bring the world class striker from Helsingborg on loan during their league’s off season. What an impact he had. Not so much for his goals but his persona.

He gave Old Trafford a buzz and would have been a perfect fit at United as a permanent signing, but he had already given his word that he would return to Sweden after the loan spell.

A couple of months after he left United the team went onto win the league and even though he hadn’t played enough games he was awarded a winners medal. His time as a Red Devil was short but sweet.

Chris Smalling 2010-Present app: 136 goals: 6

The jury is still out on Smalling who joined United from Fulham in 2010 for an undisclosed fee. Fergie obviously saw something in a player who was playing non-league football for Maidstone United in 2008.

Maybe due to the change in management and systems over the last two seasons his performances have not been to the standard expected of himself or a Manchester United player. His place will come under threat should Louis van Gaal purchase a new central defender this month.

I’m sure he tries his best and I can’t fault him for that; however, for me his best is not what we have been brought to expect at Old Trafford.

Juan Mata 2014-Present app: 34 goals: 11

Mata arrived in a helicopter last January from Chelsea for a fee which was then a club record of £37.1 million.

With the expectation of being the saviour of Man United and David Moyes the season firmly rested on his shoulders. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as United continued to struggle until the end of the campaign.

Under new manager Louis van Gaal, Mata has had ample opportunity to show why he was the fan’s player of the season two years running at Chelsea. He has produced man of the match performances and goals this season and I firmly believe Mata has a valuable part to play in the team.

Part of the new wave of Galacticos at Old Trafford alongside Di Maria, Herrera, Falcao, and Rojo. Together I’m sure they will eventually bring the flair back to the Theatre of Dreams.

There are the January buys from Manchester United’s past. I hope you enjoyed looking back and let’s see if the next purchases in this or future transfer windows go towards improving the team and become legends.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Miles Dunton | FacebookTwitter

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