Van Gaal claims United "should be scared"
Louis van Gaal insists Manchester United have more reason to be afraid of Bayern Munich than the German giants do of their 1999 Champions League final conquerors.
In the build-up to Tuesday's quarter-final first leg at the Allianz Arena, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge suggested his team were scared about trying to keep Wayne Rooney quiet.
As the man who must overcome a team who hail from the "level one" station he can only dream of eight months into his work, Van Gaal could have done without the suggestion of an inferiority complex. And the Dutchman was quick to turn it on its head, even though he accepts Rooney has a special talent that will not be easily quelled.
"I never have fear and my players don't have any fear either," said Bayern manager Van Gaal. "We value Rooney's quality. He is a super footballer.
"When he was younger, I often wondered whether he had the vision in his game. He has developed that now and is very hard to mark out of the game. But we can manage because we also have quality. Ferguson and his players should be scared of that."
Bayern are sweating on the fitness of former Chelsea star Arjen Robben, who aggravated a groin injury in Saturday's defeat by Stuttgart.
It is the kind of muscular problem that has plagued Robben throughout his career and he has never given the impression of being too keen to try to play through.
Van Gaal will give his fellow countryman every chance, knowing he is capable of the individual brilliance that helped dispose of Fiorentina in the last round. But he has vowed no chances will be taken.
"We need a player like Robben against Manchester United but if he is not 100%, he doesn't play," Van Gaal said. "You have always got to be a bit careful with a player who dribbles at such high intensity. He is not injured but his muscle is tired."
Robben's wing twin Franck Ribery is more likely to be involved despite a nagging ankle injury, although goalkeeper Jorg Butt seemed to suggest Bayern would adopt a cautious approach, possibly more geared towards preventing United bagging an away goal rather than worrying too much about whether they find the net themselves.
Yet to achieve that, Bayern need the one component he believes United have in abundance and his own squad are still trying to generate, organisation.
"Organisation at United is always good," Van Gaal said. "I am jealous of it. If we had this organisation at Bayern Munich we would be a step ahead."
There is a link between Van Gaal and the most famous of the seven meetings between Bayern and United, given he was coach of Barcelona, whose Nou Camp stadium was the scene of that staggering Red Devils triumph in 1999.
Van Gaal was present to witness Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the injury-time goals that changed the course of United's history. Like most who were present, he still struggles to comprehend exactly what happened.
"It was incredible. I still find it incredible," Van Gaal recalled. "I was in the stadium and I remember what a high intensity occasion it was. It was fascinating to watch, although I was not at Bayern Munich then. Now I don't think I would find it so good."