Louis van Gaal was at Ajax for a year or so when he was a youth player — and more famously he was at the helm as head coach of the Sons of the Gods during a hugely successful spell from 1991 until 1997. But despite his allegiances and connections to the Amsterdam giants, Van Gaal hasn’t held his tongue in what is a frank and stinging rebuke of his former club.
Van Gaal, who oversaw a jewel-laden stint at Ajax as boss in which the club were Eredivisie champions three times — in 1994, 1995 (1994–95 season unbeaten in both league and Champions League) and 1996 — has slated the club for what he describes as trying to use the coronavirus pandemic for their own gain.
The former Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Holland manager — who with Ajax captured the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the UEFA Champions League in 1995 — reacted with candour after technical director Marc Overmars said the Covid-19 pandemic should mean that the Eredivisie season be declared over.
The Johan Cruijff ArenA outfit were top of the table on goal difference when the coronavirus crisis meant football was suspended (with AZ Alkmaar second) across the globe and ex-Arsenal ace Overmars called out the Dutch football association (KNVB) after it issued a statement saying it would follow UEFA’s direction to attempt to finish the season by 3 August. UEFA then said there are no plans to end the season up by August 3, adding that president Aleksander Ceferin had his quotes misinterpreted.
And Overmars, clearly rattled, said:
“I’m comparing the KNVB and UEFA with the sentiments of American president Donald Trump a week ago when he thought the economy was more important than the coronavirus. Hello! There are more than a 100 people dying daily in the Netherlands because of the coronavirus.”
It means Ajax could be given the title if the season is ended early just like Club Brugge look poised to be handed the Belgian title early after the Jupiler Pro League’s recommendation that the campaign be finished as it stands because of the pandemic.
But Van Gaal is vehemently opposed to that notion and said:
“If it is established that the coronavirus has been defeated, you first have to finish the current competition. Sports exists to find a winner, not to say after 25 matches we cut things off and Ajax is champion.
“But while the government has also been following the experts for weeks, some football clubs suddenly say that it is not possible — Ajax first. Clubs that misuse this coronavirus crisis for their own gain and then make it a public health statement. I’m a man who can’t take that.”