Louis van Gaal got off to a rough start at Man United, but things are starting to come together. He’s got them back up to fourth in the Premier League and just two points behind second-place Man City. So less than a third of the way through his contract and still a month away from outlasting predecessor David Moyes in the job, Van Gaal is already talking about how wonderful it will be to retire to his Portuguese paradise.
From Henry Winter’s interview with him in the Telegraph:
“I have a paradise in Portugal. I want to quit to go there, play golf, eat fantastic food. There are very good wines in Portugal. There is the beach, the very beautiful weather. I don’t want to travel. Everyone wants to touch my body in the airports; it is always peeping because I have an artificial hip. I am the only one who has been controlled every time when we fly. I don’t like it. It’s better to sit down in my — our — paradise.
“I am also old. This is my last job. For sure. I have to pay attention to my kids, my grandchildren but also to my wife. They deserve it. Now I cannot pay that attention. I was not at the birthday of my grandson for example. I don’t like it.”
The unsettling mental image of Louis van Gaal saying that “everyone wants to touch my body” aside, this probably isn’t want Man United want to hear just when their fortunes are starting to turn around. Yes, he’s 63 years old and retirement thoughts are certainly understandable at that age, but he’s still eight years younger than Sir Alex Ferguson was when he retired for good (presumably) and he’s really only just begun a massive undertaking.
With this mentality, Van Gaal is something of a lame duck manager. Since retirement is his desired next step, he doesn’t have to worry about long-term success or setting himself up for another job. If he gets sacked, it just means he gets to go to his paradise and drink wine on the beach a little bit sooner. And even if he doesn’t, Man United will still have to start over on the difficult task of finding a manager up to the job in two short years.
Then again, maybe that won’t be so bad. Maybe two years from now, future La Liga champion David Moyes will be ready to give it another go.