Wenger backs Van Gaal to 'gamble' when the time is right
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Ben Spratt
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Louis van Gaal and Arsene Wenger during their time working in the Premier League
Louis van Gaal and Arsene Wenger during their time working in the Premier League

Criticism of Louis van Gaal as a "conservative coach" is unfair, according to Arsene Wenger, who believes the Netherlands boss will "gamble" when required.

Van Gaal has led the Oranje to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in his third stint in the job, beating the United States 3-1 on Saturday.

The Netherlands also reached the semi-finals under the former Ajax and Barcelona coach in 2014, before missing out on qualification for Russia 2018 in his absence.

Wenger, leading FIFA's technical study group, therefore believes Van Gaal deserves more leeway as his style of play in this tournament is scrutinised.

After finishing top of Group A, Van Gaal told journalists to go home if the Netherlands' football was "terribly boring", as the accusation had been.

"I would not classify Louis van Gaal as a conservative coach," Wenger said on Sunday. "I believe he has done remarkable work in his life and have a big respect for what he has delivered.

"He is a bit more cautious until now in the game. I agree with you because Dutch football, I have to give them credit, historically, they've always been attacking.

"In this competition, the numbers of possession is a bit less. That's it.

"I don't know if he plays deliberately conservatively or whether he does that to be more efficient. But at the moment, it works for him.

"And I wouldn't judge the potential for the Dutch until now. I think he knows. Van Gaal has huge experience.

"And I was thinking last night this guy, he comes back and he's in the quarter-final again. He's in the last eight with Holland, and before he came back, Holland had struggled.

"So, he has something special to carry the belief of a team, always to find the places in the tournament, and I have a huge respect for that.

"Let's see how he develops his capabilities as well to go for a gamble. If the game is tied later on in the match, I'm convinced [he will]."

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