Louis Van Gaal knew he had his work cut out for him when he chose to take the helm at Manchester United. The first assumption for fans and staff is that LVG would immediately focus on players and positions and fitness. It is very evident from his recent press conferences and player comments that there is a close focus on fitness and work ethic. On the contrary, there have been several reports and stories indicating that LVG is focusing on many less public aspects of the club.
A recently released YouTube video posted by Dimitri Tholen (here) shows the absurd complexity at which the Dutch National Team manager prepared for the World Cup. From weather conditions affecting fitness to the travel time and each player’s arrival times, the plan was calculated for an entire four years prior. That amazing level of detail is being deciphered and deployed at the club presently and LVG is not even in Manchester nor did he have more than 2 weeks at the facility in person. Two things can be observed by this level of detailed planning.
First, Louis Van Gaal has to have a staff of professionals that are focusing and communicating extreme amounts of off the field detail. The managers in football today have no choice but pay attention to every detail to prepare the club for success on all levels. His staff is constantly giving feedback on every level of operations at Old Trafford and Carrington and while away on tour LVG is making decisions at every turn. During LVG’s presentation, he breaks down his staffing models and explains the logistics behind each position and where the focus needs to be. The recent news exposed by the dailymail (here) regarding LVG’s demands for a high-definition camera system corroborates his philosophy of using data and technology to help drive success.
An additional disclosure by The Independent (here) explains how LVG ordered completely new pitch surfaces to replicate the playing surface of Old Trafford at practice pitches in Carrington. So secondly, every level of detail is being considered to give the players every advantage at a club that must continue to reinvent itself. Why not practice like you play? Why not review mistakes on the field immediately and demonstrate them with the players and coaches? Why do clubs insist that investments only be made at the player or stadium levels? These are the questions that a successful football manager in today’s game must ask and answer and is exactly what Louis Van Gaal is doing today.
There should be no doubt that Louis Van Gaal already has a vision for Manchester United for year 1, year 2, year 3 and so forth. What has been shown in a few short weeks but only in small examples is the preparation to achieve that vision. That should be exciting for any Manchester United fan. Even a single year without vision, preparation, and innovation can set a massive club like Manchester United back 2-3 years competitively. Have confidence that there is plan and it will be forcefully executed leaving anyone not on board, behind. That list will include players, staff, groundskeepers, janitors and anyone else not buying into the vision and plan that Van Gaal has created.