Louis Van Gaal has apologized to all Tottenham Hotspur fans, for in the summer of 2014, given his choice of taking charge of either their club or Manchester United, he chose the latter, leaving the former to “settle” for then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Funny thing is, you’ll not find a single Lilywhite complaining 22 months on from the Dutchman’s decision, given the polar opposite directions in which the two clubs have quickly trended since Van Gaal’s Premier League arrival. In fact, following Tottenham’s 3-0 thrashing of the Red Devils on Sunday, Mr. Van Gaal could perhaps expect a few thousand “thank you” cards with north London postmarks to turn up in his mailbox Monday morning — quotes from the BBC:
“The challenge was bigger for me at Manchester United and shall always be bigger.
“I’m sorry for Tottenham but Manchester United is a bigger club.”
“I liked also to sign for Tottenham Hotspur and Daniel Levy knows that. It is a little bit pathetic you asked that [whether he regretted his choice] because they have won 3-0. It’s easy to ask that but OK, you enjoy yourself.
“Can we finish fourth? Yes, because we have 18 points available so we still have a chance, but it’s more difficult than before the match that’s for sure.
“Everybody can lose to everybody else. We are still in the race.”
Nearly two years on, Van Gaal’s decision to take the job at Man United, an iconic club with resources and support that trump 99 percent of the rest of world football, to be sure, serves as yet another reminder that brilliance comes in all different shapes and sizes, and always departs with a quicker-than-expected expiration date.
While United remain a stagnant, uninspiring attacking side under Van Gaal (39 goals scored in 32 games this season – fewest of any team currently in the top-eight), Pochettino has transformed his Spurs side into one of the PL’s most free-flowing, aesthetically-pleasing footballing sides (60 goals scored – most in the league).
That he’s also orchestrated the league’s best defensive record (25 goals conceded in 32 games – five fewer than United, the next closest side) is but the cherry on top of an already-delicious ice cream sundae.
That Pochettino is a mere 44 years old, 20 years Van Gaal’s junior, just as the majority of his squad are yet to hit the peaks of their respective careers, costing the club $239 million less than LvG’s net spend over four transfer windows (Spurs have actually recouped nearly $32 million more than they’ve spent under Pochettino, with many thanks to most of “the Gareth Bale money” being lit on fire, of course) — not to mention the remaining buy-out money it’ll cost United to (presumably) fire him this summer — means Spurs dodged something of a bullet this time around and stumbled all over a bit of good fortune, for once in their tortured existence.
So no apologies necessary, Louis … not to Spurs fans, anyway.