Their narrow victory in Friday night’s World Cup qualifier – thanks a 19th-minute goal from ex-Everton midfielder Davy Klaassen – saw the 70-year-old come in for criticism with suggestions that Dutch supporters want more entertainment from the Oranje.
Back in charge of the Dutch national team for the third time following Frank de Boer’s sacking post-Euro 2020, van Gaal has received flack from sections of his home nation for his style of football.
But the ex-Manchester United boss argues it is not his team’s job to entertain, instead to simply reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
It is the same problem United fans had during his two-year stint Old Trafford, as they watched their side operate pragmatically in van Gaal’s “philosophy” as opposed to the fast, attacking football of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
“We don’t have to entertain the public here,” the former Barcelona and Ajax boss told NOS following the qualifier in which they boasted 78 percent possession. “We have to make it to the World Cup, that’s the goal.
“These are very difficult matches. Every long ball was a fight with that striker [Roberts Uldrikis] of theirs…
“It has become 0-1, but it could also have been 0-4, 1-6 or 2-1,” van Gaal continued, having resounding recorded wins of 6-1 and 4-0 in their two preceding matches.
“We did that ourselves. Frenkie de Jong’s pass was too soft and Denzel Dumfries did not come to the ball. Everything went wrong there.”
He noted: “We had 15 chances and they had four. We had 75 per cent of the ball. That is not surprising, because I had already expected this.”
“You can say it’s not that great, but we won 1-0, and Turkey-Norway made it 1-1. We are one step closer to the World Cup.”
Since van Gaal took over, the Netherlands are unbeaten from four games and remain top of Group G, bidding to reach their first World Cup since 2014, when the experienced gaffer led them to a third-place finish in Brazil during his second spell.
Then followed two seasons in Manchester that, despite an FA Cup triumph, saw van Gaal break multiple unwanted records before being sacked in 2016.
During his first international break back at the helm with the Oranjes, he was involved in a heated exchange with a reporter, who claimed LVG wanted to employ defensive football.
“You have no idea at all. I’m sorry to say it, but you’re just a journalist,” he snapped back at Valentijn Driessen.
“You want to implement your vision, but you have no vision in football. You have a vision for the newspaper, fantastic. You attract attention, and so on.”
Next up for the Netherlands is a match in front of their own fans against Gibraltar on Monday, who they hammered 7-0 in March.