Louis van Gaal could be the next great manager of Manchester United but for City chief executive Ferran Soriano the Dutchman’s tough tactics only work in the movies.
Champions League-winning coach Van Gaal is primed to be announced as David Moyes’ permanent successor after Tuesday’s final home game of the season against Hull.
Soriano, who recalls the fallout from the 62-year-old’s time at Barcelona between 1997 and 2000 and again in 2002-03, believes that Van Gaal’s confrontational style could eventually cost him at Old Trafford.
“If you treat your people badly, they remember,” he said. “One day you make an error and they kill you. I’ve seen this in many clubs.
“Louis van Gaal has been a very good coach in many clubs but his style is very difficult. The same thing happened to him in Barcelona as in Bayern Munich.
“He is very tough, people don’t like him, but he wins. And one day you don’t win – and when you don’t win, everybody that is angry with you will come back to you and try to kill you.
“In the movies this works, in real life it doesn’t.”
The City director, who joined the club in 2012 after previously spending a four-year stint as Barcelona vice-president, has doubts that the current Netherlands boss is the right man to reverse arch-rivals United’s flagging fortunes post-World Cup.
“Before you decide how to manage your team, decide what they need,” Soriano said.
“Do you need to be more direct? Do you need to delegate more? Do you need to be more of a coach? Are you able to manage people? How good are you? How much do you know about your job? How can you be a leader if you don’t manage people well and don’t know what you are talking about?”
Van Gaal’s no-nonsense, abrasive approach may draw comparisons to legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson but Spaniard Soriano insists that he may have to adapt his style to match the Scot’s success in the Premier League.
“Football is a complex sport. It’s complicated – very complicated. Everybody needs to know what to do – what he is expected to do,” said Soriano.
“One thing I have learned in football is that leadership is a very difficult thing. You need to choose your leadership style based on what your team needs, not your character. This is counter-intuitive.
“People think a good leader is someone with character. I say a good leader is someone who can listen to the team, understand the kind of leadership that a team needs and apply it.”
While not always making friends, Van Gaal has had a glittering managerial career in Europe after starting out at Dutch giants Ajax in 1991, leading them to three Eredivisie titles and European glory with the 1992 UEFA Cup and the 1995 Champions League.
After two spells as Holland national boss and a further double appointment at Barcelona, Van Gaal has also scooped two La Liga crowns and a Copa Del Rey and the double in his one-season reign at Bayern Munich.
He has also led relative minnows AZ Alkmaar to a Dutch title in his silverware-laden career.
Main image courtesy of FIFATV via YouTube, with thanks.