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Proud of my team, says Van Gaal

Brasilia: The Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said his team’s run to third place at the World Cup was proof that there was more than one “Dutch” way of playing the game.

Van Gaal’s side played a more defensive, containing style than that preferred by many Dutch coaches. “We were able to show a kind of football that is rather novel, in the Netherlands at least, with players who cooperate so well. There is more than one Dutch way of playing the game,” Van Gaal said after ending his World Cup with a 3-0 win over hosts Brazil on Saturday.

“A coach has to work based on the quality of his squad and it worked out apart from the fact that we are not world champions. But really we were very, very close,” he said.

The Dutch dream of winning the World Cup for the first time ended with a semi-final defeat on penalties to Argentina in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

Former Real Madrid and South Korea coach Guus Hiddink will take over the Dutch team for the second time ahead of the Euro 2016 qualification campaign.

“The next coach of the team, I heard him say he wants the Dutch way of playing football. I have always played the Dutch way and I also gave it something else,” said Van Gaal.

“Perhaps this will open everyone’s eyes in the Netherlands and make people realise that there’s not just one system,” he added. Van Gaal repeated his view that the third place game was unfair given that Brazil had an extra day to prepare for the fixture.

“This match should never have been played. It was played under unequal conditions and Fifa should ask themselves whether they should always give the host country the advantage,” he said.

“It’s not easy to build up the squad in three days and Brazil had four days which is a big difference and I think we played a fantastic match under the circumstances.”

Dutch winger Arjen Robben, the team’s most dangerous player throughout the tournament, said there was no doubt that the Netherlands had surpassed expectations.

“Nobody expected us to be in the last four. We fully deserved this third place,” he said. “ It was an honour to be here and a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Van Gaal is hoping he can replicate the team spirit that took the Netherlands to third place at the Fifa World Cup when he arrives at Manchester United. The Dutch will take over as manager at Old Trafford with the challenge of getting the fallen champions back on track after a difficult last season under David Moyes.

“There will always be a place in my heart for these 23 players,” said van Gaal, who will be replaced as Dutch coach by the returning Guus Hiddink. “My players were great. I hope that the group in Manchester will become like this one because we have to read from the same hymn sheet.”

(reuters)