Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is “calm in the Premier League because there’s less pressure”, according to former Barcelona midfielder Xavi.
Van Gaal has a reputation for being something of a spiky character and has this season faced criticism over United’s style of play, but Xavi has defended his former Barca boss against both accusations.
“[He is a] good person, very good trainer,” Xavi said in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC. “He has a very strong character, but he’s calm in the Premier League because there’s less pressure. He’s much calmer than when he was at Barca or Bayern Munich.
“He’s honest, methodical and a real perfectionist. He’s very demanding, he’s strict and he wants to achieve the highest levels possible.”
Xavi says Van Gaal is “poorly valued in the media” but admitted even he was not convinced initially by the man who gave him his Barcelona debut as a teenager.
“After two days of training under him, I thought, ‘Who is this idiot?’ After a week, I thought, ‘He’s right.’ He’ll always be in my heart, Louis van Gaal.”
Xavi also gave his opinion on the rift between Van Gaal and Victor Valdes, adding: “[Van Gaal and Valdes] are two strong characters, but it’s a difficult situation for Victor.
“Let’s hope he finds a solution soon. I’m sad for him. He’s a great professional, a good person. He’s training, he’s working hard. He’ll return to football. It’s better for Victor to be playing football.”