Van Gaal led Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title in his first season there, 2009/10, but they finished 10 points off top spot in his second and final campaign, when they lost home and away to Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, the eventual champions.
It was only the eighth title in Dortmund’s history and their first for nine years. When asked in this week’s pre-match press conference how his younger and less experienced adversary had achieved this, van Gaal told the Sunday newspapers:
“They played aggressive and pressing football that he [Klopp] is now showing with Liverpool. At that time the German teams were not used to that.
“He also had a very good squad with players like Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels for example. They were in great form and great shape and they showed the aggressive football that he shows also here.”
Klopp’s contrasting style of in-game management was another talking point for the Sunday journalists, who were keen to know why van Gaal doesn’t patrol the technical area like his animated Liverpool counterpart.
“Every manager has his own identity, his own personality and his own philosophy,” replied the boss.
“Of course, when I started my career I did that also, but I don’t think that you can influence from the line, that is my experience. You can influence by changing players, by communicating with players, and I sometimes do that by coming to the line, but not for 90 minutes. I don’t believe in that. You will have to ask him [Klopp] why he does that.”
Van Gaal traced a change in his own approach back to the 1995 Champions League final and a show of anger when Ajax were denied a penalty during their eventual 1-0 win over Milan.
“I did a high tackle in the air because I showed the assistant referee what the player on the pitch [Marcel Desailly] had done to Jari Litmanen,” remembered the manager.
“It was a penalty in my opinion, but the referee did not whistle! I think the referee [Ion Craciunescu] still remembers my name and what I did.
“You cannot influence from the line. I don’t think the referees in England are influenced by the managers or the fans.
“I think it [not being in the technical area] is also to control your passion. I know that a lot of fans like a manager who is showing that, but the effect is more important than showing that.