Liga Editorial: Iniesta Owes Van Gaal
Latest News | World Editorials | News Archive
That's five this season! (Allsport)
01/17/2003. Andres Iniesta must be thanking his lucky stars that Louis Van Gaal is in charge of Barcelona after breaking into the first team this season.
The 18-year-old attacking midfielder is the latest youngster to be plucked from the club's B team and thrust into the spotlight by the Dutch coach.
During his first stint at Camp Nou, Van Gaal tried and tested several homegrown players after the success he enjoyed utilising the Ajax production line.
Iniesta made an impressive debut in the final league match before Christmas when he helped Barcelona to a 4-0 win over Mallorca in Son Moix.
His first apearance cannot be put down to the club's lengthy injury list after Van Gaal insisted that he had not played up until then because he too had been sidelined with a knock.
When Van Gaal returned to the club in the summer, the first person to welcome him in the press was Xavi, who described hm as a father figure.
It was after all, Van Gaal that gave Xavi his big break and the skilful playmaker has never looked back.
Now the former Holland trainer is aiming to delve into the club's vast youth team pool again and pick out some more gems.
Already this season he has used five players from the B team including Iniesta, Victor Valdes, Oleguer Presas, David Sanchez and Sergio Garcia, while Dani Tortolero and Roberto Trashorras have been on the bench.
His willingness to use the talent that the club has produced that is one of Van Gaal's most unpublicised points.
The Barca crowd expect the big names to bought in and for the rest of the world to see that their club can attract the best players.
But their fierce independent nature also desires a team full of homegrown players that are pressing for every major honour, while flying the flag for Catalunya.
But they cannot have it both ways.
The fact that a player like Iniesta is keeping Juan Roman Riquelme out of the side has meant that the criticism towards the coach has been muted.
Iniesta though believes that Van Gaal is the best coach for the club.
Van Gaal knows every player at the club from the infance team through to the highly paid stars currently failing to live upto expectations.
He is a regular at B and C team games and all the youngsters know him to speak to and he knows everything about them.
Iniesta is set to be a star of the future. He and the club have both been rewarded for six years of hard work.
After being spotted playing in a seven-a-side tournament in Albacete he left home at the age of 12 to live in the Masia (training academy) at Barcelona and has made his way through five of the lcub's six youth teams.
Despite not being very tall, at only 18 he will become stronger and faster and with it so will great recognition.
His superb vision, tireless running and eye for the killer pass have already made him a hit at Camp Nou and he will not be the last.
Even if Van Gaal leaves the club without winning a trophy this time, he will have left the squad in much better shape than it was when he arrived.
If a few more members of the media could see through his arrogance and amusing pronunciation of Spanish and appreciate what he is doing at Camp Nou, then there would not be such a desire to see him go.