Louis van Gaal has told Dutch reporters to go home if they are bored by his football as he hit back at accusations that watching the Netherlands at this World Cup is like “grinding teeth”.
The Netherlands secured their passage through to the Round of 16 as Group A winners with a dour 2-0 win over hosts Qatar.
It sets up a last-16 tie against the USA, the runners up of Group B, taking place at 3pm UK time on Saturday, December 3.
But Van Gaal found himself embroiled in a row with the Dutch media amid growing criticism of the team’s style of play and performances at the tournament.
“I think you have a different perspective to me, why don’t you write down it’s terribly boring. If you think it’s boring why don’t you go home,” Van Gaal told one reporter who claimed the Netherlands had not offered enough against Qatar.
Van Gaal dismissed another Dutch journalist who claimed people back home were unhappy with the Netherlands’ displays.
“Well that’s your opinion and I’m sure I will hear and see all about it but I don’t agree with your opinion,” he said.
When the same reporter then suggested watching the Netherlands was like “grinding teeth”, Van Gaal claimed the situation was not as bad as some were making out.
“Well that’s disappointing I think but I don’t agree with you, I think everyone would be rather proud we’re progressing to the next round and I think people know why you’re asking these questions,” Van Gaal said. “I don’t think things are as bad as you say.”
Cody Gakpo scored his third goal of the tournament and Van Gaal believes the PSV Eindhoven forward – who has been linked with a move to Manchester United – has a bright future ahead of him.
“Things can change obviously but Cody Gakpo has everything to become a star and he has the personality to become a star because he’s open minded and open to everything,” Van Gaal said.
“He always played on the left side and he didn’t want to play in the centre or at No 10 and now he does want to play there and he thinks I’m a great coach.”
Netherlands World Cup 2022 squad
Manchester United's Donny van de Beek and Newcastle United defender Sven Botman were left out of the Netherlands squad for the World Cup.
Midfielder Van de Beek, who hasn't played for his country since March last year, lost out to the uncapped Xavi Simons, who has impressed for PSV this season. Botman is yet to be capped at senior level, but has been in good form for Newcastle.
Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Manchester City's Nathan Ake are in the squad alongside Manchester United's Tyrell Malacia. Burnley's Wout Weghorst, who is on loan at Besiktas, made the cut, as does Bayern Munich's Mathijs de Ligt and Barcelona's De Jong.
There are plenty of ex-Premier League players in the squad, with Barcelona's Memphis Depay, former Tottenham forward Steven Bergwijn, one-time Newcastle loanee Luuk de Jong and ex-Middlesbrough midfielder Marten de Roon selected.
PSV starlet Cody Gakpo, who has reportedly drawn interest from a host of top European clubs, is also in the squad.
Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow, Remko Pasveer, Andries Noppert
Defenders: Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Aké, Daley Blind, Jurriën Timber, Denzel Dumfries, Stefan de Vrij, Mathijs de Ligt, Tyrell Malacia, Jeremie Frimpong
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong, Steven Berghuis, Davy Klaassen, Teun Koopmeiners, Cody Gakpo, Marten de Roon, Kenneth Taylor, Xavi Simons
Forwards: Memphis Depay, Steven Bergwijn, Vincent Janssen, Luuk de Jong, Noa Lang, Wout Weghorst
Who are the key players?
Liverpool star Van Dijk continues to marshal the defence as team captain. The 31-year-old’s pace, power and aerial dominance make him one of the most formidable centre-backs in the world and the same goes for his partner, 21-year-old De Ligt of Bayern Munich who left Serie A's Juventus for £70 million in August.
The Barcelona pair of De Jong and Depay had both being linked with moves away from Camp Nou all summer long but ended up staying and will be key figures.
De Jong’s passing, dribbling and versatility make him a vital asset while Depay, reunited with Van Gaal after an unhappy spell at Old Trafford together, is indisputably their greatest goalscoring threat.
Who, where and when do Netherlands play?
Netherlands are in Group A, along with hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal.
Group Stage fixtures
What is Netherlands’ World Cup record?
Rivalled only by Croatia for punching well above the weight of their size, Netherlands are a contender for the best national side never to have won a World Cup.
Three times they have finished runners-up, twice during the 1970s (1974 and 1978) during the Rinus Michels/Johan Cruyff-inspired ‘Total Football’ era, and again in 2010 when they lost 1-0 to Spain in one of the filthiest football matches of modern times.
Despite missing out on the 2018 tournament, their recent record is impressive: Van Gaal took them to third place in 2014 before decamping to Manchester United.
A relatively routine run through qualifying will have also bolstered their confidence and with a group that should be fairly easy to negotiate, the Oranje are definitely a team to look out for in Qatar.
Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | Ecuador | England | France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico | Morocco | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Serbia | South Korea | Spain | Switzerland | Tunisia | Uruguay | USA | Wales
What are the latest odds?
Netherlands are currently a best price of 14/1 to win the World Cup.