‘Van Gaal made me a better player’ says PSV coach
Cocu, who played under van Gaal as a Dutch national and at Barcelona, will go head-to-head with his former tutor, hoping past experience will give him an added advantage.
“He made me a better player,” Cocu told journalists at a pre-match press conference on Monday in what is set to be an intriguing Dutch-on-Dutch tussle.
Van Gaal taught “me the tactical skills and the ways he worked with the team,” said Cocu, who declined to divulge his own starting line-up or match tactics.
Asked about van Gaal’s strongest characteristics, Cocu said: “He is always optimally prepared. It doesn’t matter for what game.”
“Tactically he’s also very strong,” he added.
Cocu had high praise for former PSV winger Memphis Depay, who is back at his old stamping ground after joining the Red Devils over the summer.
“Memphis will bring in the goals (for Manchester). He’s physically strong and he’s a quick learner,” said Cocu.
Depay is also very loyal “and will die for his fellow players,” the PSV coach added.
“An opponent has to put two players against him and that means that the rest of the team can benefit,” said Cocu.
United make their return to the Champions League away to PSV in a clash which will see Dutch winger Depay return to the club he left in the summer for £25 million ($38.6m).
Depay has struggled since his arrival at United with French teenager Anthony Martial’s goalscoring debut against Liverpool on Saturday distracting from the 21-year-old’s struggles.
Depay should get a warm reception in the Philips Stadion having helped PSV to a first title win in seven years last season.
The forward was the Dutch league’s top scorer with 22 goals, but United fans are yet to see the same form of a player that shone for PSV and the Netherlands at the World Cup.
Said Cocu: “I’m not surprised that Memphis has some ups and downs. Each player needs a few months to get used to the Premier League.”
“After he’s played for a few months he’ll get a lot better.”