Legendary Manchester United midfielder has compared van Gaal to previous managerial incumbent David Moyes.
Much has been made about how Manchester United appear like a squad lifted, despite containing many of the same names as last season. The only difference, of course, is management as former Netherlands national team boss Louis van Gaal has brought respect and fear factor with him - something David Moyes perhaps did not command from the staff last year.
Commenting on the contrast, Paul Scholes also noted how van Gaal is not just a genius, but he is also "scary, made and crazy" and that while it is well known he possesses a nous for preparation and in-game strategy, the legendary Old Trafford midfielder has gone one step further in explaining the nuances that make him such an elite-level tactician and it comes down to one main thing - manipulation of space.
"Louis van Gaal got the respect of the players as soon as he arrived," wrote Scholes in his Independent column. "This is a man who has managed some huge clubs: Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and he has just taken the Netherlands to third place in a World Cup finals.
"He is a man with presence. He looks a bit of a scary man. Good. Sir Alex Ferguson was a scary man too, at times, and it is possible to push players into performances. From what I’ve seen in pre-season he looks a bit mad. He’s a bit like a mad genius, he looks a bit crazy.
"It is inevitable that when you talk about Van Gaal, you start to look back at last season and David Moyes. I don’t want to spend the next year criticising Moyes. For whatever reason, it did not work out for him. By United’s standards the season was a disaster.
"With the greatest respect, it is a very different prospect going to United having managed Barcelona, Bayern and the Netherlands at a World Cup finals than it is going to United from Everton. Van Gaal has instantly got the respect of the squad. Players should perform whoever the manager is, but the reality is often very different. Last year, the fear factor was not there for the United players. It is now."
Athletes who have played under van Gaal have oft lauded the Dutchman's ability to influence a game from the dug-out, with Dirk Kuyt even commenting that "he's maybe the best in the world, tactically."
The fact that he has successfully evolved his formations and the way he sets his team up through three decades of top division football is testament to his prowess in this department and, recently, he has gone from a 4-3-3 with the Netherlands to a 3-5-2 system with United.
What is common throughout van Gaal's teams, though, is the manipulation of space so that it feels like his sides possess extra men. Scholes explains more: "I played against Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich team when they beat United on away goals in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2010.
"I believe I first encountered him when I was part of an England team that lost to Van Gaal’s Dutch side at White Hart Lane in 2001. The first thing I noticed about his teams was quite striking: they seemed to have more men on the pitch than us.
"It is the Dutch way," he noted. "They create an extra man in midfield. With his 3-5-2 formation at United, Van Gaal is doing something similar. Watching United against Real Madrid this month I found myself asking, “How is it United seem to have so many men on the pitch?”