Louis van Gaal is going to extraordinary lengths to give his Dutch side the edge for any potential penalty shootout at the World Cup by adding a volleyball coach to his backroom team.
The 71-year-old, who came out of retirement to lead the Netherlands to qualification for Qatar after their disappointing Euro 2020 campaign, is confident progress through the knockout stages will be down to fine margins and has added Peter Murphy to his coaching staff, called him the ‘penalty killer’.
A former hall-of-fame coach of the Netherlands national volleyball team, Murphy has been tasked with helping the Dutch goalkeepers read where players can place their spot kicks.
Louis van Gaal has added a volleyball coach to his backroom ahead of the World Cup
Van Gaal believes his volleyball coach can help goalkeepers shake opponents and make them feel less confident
The move has brought some criticism in the Netherlands, but the former Manchester United manager believes there is merit in his thinking.
He adds that he has also taught his goalies to mess with players’ minds by making them perform Native American rituals while on the line.
‘We have been looking for the best criminal killer – and I believe that Peter Murphy’s knowledge and experience can help us a lot.’ Van Gaal said.
‘He won’t teach the boys to play volleyball if that’s what you think.
‘Murphy has to do tests with my goalkeepers. He will also tell them how to shake the penalty taker and make him feel less confident. There are tools and tricks for this.
Gaal has dubbed his new addition ‘the penalty killer’ as he looks to give Holland a spot-kick edge
‘I think it is allowed to influence the opponent. A dancing goalkeeper on the line is very possible. Peter will also support our goalkeepers psychologically. He has studied this field at university and has a lot of knowledge. I can’t reveal more details about it because other teams would certainly benefit from it as well.’
It is not the first time Van Gaal has thought outside the box when it comes to penalties. At the 2014 World Cup, the eccentric coach replaced Dutch number one Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul with the quarter-final clash with Costa Rica headed for a shoot-out.
Krul, who was playing for Newcastle at the time, saved Bryan Ruiz’s Michael Umana penalty in a move that Cillessen and the rest of Holland didn’t realize would happen.
Tim Krul was famously brought on by Van Gaal during the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals
Van Gaal later admitted it was all about mind games and believes any innovation like that can help his side in this winter’s tournament.
‘What I did in 2014 was something that I call ‘the master’s eye’. It got us through. This time we need to provide the goalkeepers with a scientific side to save penalties. We are probably the very first country in the world to have made the penalty shootout a scientific project.
‘That’s what I call innovation – and I do a lot of innovation in football. In all the World Cup tournaments, it has been proven that penalties are often decisive.’
The Netherlands are in Group A along with hosts Qatar, Senegal and Ecuador.
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