Louis van Gaal entertained the media in Doha on Thursday as he responded to criticism from Angel Di Maria by showing his close bond with Memphis Depay, another of his former Manchester United players.
Dutch coach Van Gaal signed Di Maria at United but the Argentina international has struggled to settle in the Premier League.
The winger, who hopes to face Van Gaal’s Oranje at the World Cup on Friday, subsequently branded the former United manager “the worst coach of my career”.
Van Gaal was offered a reminder of the comment in his pre-match press conference but was in a jovial mood as he sat next to Depay.
“Angel Di Maria is just a really good footballer,” Van Gaal told an increasingly amused press.
“When he was playing for Manchester he had a lot of personal problems, his house was broken into. It also affected his fitness that year.
“The fact that he would call me the worst coach, he’s one of the few players who’s ever said that. It’s usually the other way around.
“So I think it’s sad. I don’t like that Angel said that on one occasion. It’s a shame, but it’s true.”
“Sometimes a head coach needs to make decisions that don’t always end well. There’s someone here next to me, Memphis Depay, and the same thing happened to him.”
“Memphis also played for Manchester and now we kiss mouth to mouth. No we won’t do that now.”
“That’s the way things go in football. People are laughing now, but I didn’t pick Memphis for the [FA Cup] final – that’s not nice now.
“Trust me, the head coach doesn’t do that for no reason. Maybe it was a bad decision, but look at how we’re dealing with each other now, working together. Things are pretty different.”
“I’m not allowed to kiss him on the mouth, he doesn’t want to, quite unfortunate, but I don’t mind.”
Van Gaal was also asked about Bastian Schweinsteiger, who played for him at both United and Bayern Munich.
Schweinsteiger’s Germany knocked Argentina out of three consecutive World Cups between 2006 and 2014 and he has been in touch with Van Gaal.
“It’s private. I’m sorry, it’s private. I can’t say anything about it,” Van Gaal said of their talks. “I think it’s great that he’s doing that.
“I also ask him because he’s a reporter now and he sees all the games and he was a player with a brain. Football is played with a brain.”
“I’m learning things that my scouts haven’t told me before, which is positive. Now that Germany is gone, he’s a Netherlands fan.”