Manchester United legend Sammy McIlroy says he has been ‘very impressed’ by the start made by new manager Louis van Gaal.
United’s pre-season has been great, with strong wins over LA Galaxy and Roma and a penalty shoot out win over Inter Milan, but it was the 3-1 victory over a fairly strong Real Madrid side that raised eyebrows. The most exciting feature for United supporters, though, has been the difference in performance.
Van Gaal has instilled his style of play at the club and the players have immediately responded. This comes as no surprise to McIlroy, who remembers his past experiences with the Dutchman. “I’ve been watching pre-season and I’ve got to admit I’ve been very impressed by him,” McIlroy told TalkOfTheDevils.com. “I’m not surprised the players are already adapting to his philosophy because he’s a man who knows how to get his message across. I first met him in 2000 at an international manager’s meetings and I was sat right beside him. The seminar was due to start at 10am, but still hadn’t by 10.02am. Louis nudged me in the knee and said “I’m off”. I said, “What do you mean?”. He said, “If my team starts two minutes late, we could be a goal down. This is not right.” That’s the kind of man he is.”
McIlroy feels that the attitude employed by van Gaal is reminiscent of when he played at United, with the emphasis on working as a team and high energy levels. “Everyone joined in on our team, attacking and defensively, there were no shirkers,” says the Northern Irishman. “You might laugh but Barcelona’s recent teams were so successful because as soon as they lost the ball they got it back. We were doing that in the 70’s under Tommy Doc and Tommy Cavanagh. We harried people, got in their faces, toe-poke balls away, make them pass the ball as quickly as possible to create mistakes. Everyone talks about how fit the Barcelona team are but we were doing the same and the energy levels were unbelievable in our side.”
United face Liverpool in their next friendly tonight after finishing top of their “International Champions Cup” group, before returning to the UK.