European heavyweights the Netherlands remain on course with a chance to exercise decades-old demons at the 2022 World Cup after Oranje advanced to the quarterfinals after an action-packed 3-1 win over the United States at Khalifa International Stadium.
While so much talk will justifiably focus on the performances of Denzel Dumfries, Daley Blind, and Memphis Depay, iconic managerial figure Louis van Gaal should perhaps be the biggest talking point during what is his second stint at the helm of Clockwork Orange.
Many Premier League fans will remember his managerial tenure on the Old Trafford touchline between 2014 and 2016 which went unheralded after he presided over the worst winning percentage across what is now a 30-year career patrolling the technical area, but what the 71-year-old Amsterdam native has done for Dutch football both at the club and international level has been nothing short of sublime.
Tonight’s win over a doggedly-determined young United States outfit under Gregg Berhalter was Van Gaal’s nineteenth match unbeaten since returning in service of his country, adding to what was already an impressive return from his prior stint from 2012-14 that saw the Netherlands finish third in Brazil eight years ago.
All told, Van Gaal brings to the table a stellar record as the top boss in the low countries, which currently stands at 32-14-2, good enough for a 66.6% win rate, while having never lost at the World Cup in normal time, only being defeated in a shootout.
The hope now is that his ability to extract results could see the Netherlands reach its first final since 2010 in South Africa, while potentially finally bringing home an elusive World Cup win and putting an end to the unwelcomed claim of being the best nation to ever achieve the top prize in football.