The Netherlands kicked off their 2014 World Cup campaign with a splash, hammering Spain 5-1 in their opening Group B match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
It was one of the best performances of the tournament, but since then, the Dutch have not been that imperious.
The Oranje have some truly brilliant and world-class players such as Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, but overall on paper, they do not possess the best 23 players at the World Cup.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal knows that fully well – after all, he is the one who picked his team.
‘Our goal has always been to become world champions. We have always said that we are a team that is difficult to beat’, Goal.com quotes the 62-year-old as saying. ‘We're not a fantastic team but we are difficult to beat’.
Van Gaal made these comments before the Netherlands’ quarter-final tie against Costa Rica in Salvador on Saturday, but they could well be applicable to Manchester United team under him next season.
Many would expect the Red Devils to play ‘fantastic’, free-flowing and fluid football under Van Gaal, but they could well take a different and more effective approach.
This does not mean that the Dutchman will make his side ‘boring’, ‘dull’ and ‘caution-first’; this means that he could play to the players’ strengths, make them tactically superior to their opponents and ‘difficult to beat’.
Of course, at United Van Gaal would be expected to play entertaining football, but at the same time, he will have players in his squad who will not be able to do so.
Moreover, the 2014-15 campaign will be about United reclaiming their status as the Premier League champions – just as Netherlands’ quest at the start of the World Cup was to win it.
The World Cup is played in the space of a month, the Premier League over the course of 10. But the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach could still adopt the same approach as he has done in Brazil with the Dutch team.
After all, Van Gaal’s main objective at Old Trafford next season will be to win the league title.