Van Gaal puts Van Dijk in his place with sharp comeback, as Liverpool star’s Netherlands claim blunted

Louis van Gaal, Montenegro v Netherlands November 2021

Louis van Gaal has insisted that he has the final say over the Netherlands’ tactics, following criticism by Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.

Reds centre-back Van Dijk is back starring for his country following a spell out of the team at a crucial moment. Indeed, his serious knee injury saw him miss Euro 2020 as his country reached the last 16.

What’s more, he has returned to the fold with the team in transition.

Frank de Boer stepped aside as manager after Euro 2020, allowing ex-Manchester United boss Van Gaal to enter his third spell in charge of the Netherlands.

As his country’s captain, Van Dijk was keen to speak out on his country’s progress in Van Gaal’s latest stint after the 4-2 friendly win over Denmark on Saturday.

The 30-year-old claimed that he preferred a 4-3-3 formation instead of Van Gaal’s 3-4-1-2 system.

However, speaking via the Daily Mirror, Van Gaal hit back at the defender, insisting that “the manager decides the tactics”.

He said: “I know he has that preference, he always said this publicly.

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“We already had this debate when I came here. The manager decides the tactics.”

Saturday’s win over Denmark stretched the Netherlands’ unbeaten run in Van Gaal’s latest spell to eight matches.

They face another tough friendly against Germany on Tuesday, before the focus turns to the Nations League.

The Netherlands are in a group with Belgium, Wales and Poland.

Van Gaal hails Eriksen impact

The Netherlands ran out 4-2 winners over Denmark thanks to goals from Steven Bergwijn, Nathan Ake and Memphis Depay.

For Denmark, Christian Eriksen scored on his return to the international fold.

Indeed, he was making his first appearance since suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

He subsequently battled his way back into professional football and signed for Brentford in January.

Van Gaal said: “He has already played in Brentford, I mean.

“So I was not surprised that he came on the field. I was more surprised that he did not start inside the first half.

“He is a wonderful player that we know very well. He has played here and it was wild when he was replaced.”

Eriksen and Van Dijk will now be looking to end their campaigns with Brentford and Liverpool, respectively, on a strong note.