Dick Advocaat is more concerned about Manchester United’s players, than locking horns with old team-mate and adversary Louis van Gaal.
Sunderland boss Advocaat will face a familiar face in the opposite dug-out at Old Trafford this weekend after working alongside and against Man United manager van Gaal for the last 30 years.
We don’t play against the coach, we’re playing against UnitedDick Advocaat
The pair of former Holland managers were team-mates as players at Sparta Rotterdam, and then fought for major honours in their homeland when they were respectively in charge of Ajax and PSV Eindhoven.
They last went head-to-head in the 2007 UEFA Cup during Advocaat’s spell at Zenit St Petersburg, when van Gaal was with AZ Alkmaar.
This weekend’s clash will be the 10th meeting between the duo - with Advocaat only losing one of their previous encounters - but the Black Cats head coach is more concerned by the threat of van Gaal’s players who have taken United to second place in the Premier League.
“We played together, so I know him well and know his family,” said Advocaat.
“He played with me at Sparta for two years. You heard what I am saying... he played with me!
“He was a different player to me. I would get the ball and give it to him. He had the eyes - and so did I later - but in the beginning, I gave it to him because he was a good player.
“He was not the quickest. But he is a good guy. If you know him well, he is a good guy.
“But we don’t play against the coach, we’re playing against United.
“It’s a great pitch, great stadium, what more do you need?
“It makes no sense to be negative about them. That doesn’t help my team.”
Van Gaal is not the only familiar face to Advocaat on United’s books.
He gave £25million summer signing Memphis Depay his senior debut at PSV, while also worked briefly with goalkeeper Sergio Romero at AZ Alkmaar.
“I gave Depay his debut, I know Romero a little bit, not that well because he left, and (Daley) Blind,” added Advocaat.
“For me, it’s not so important.
“We have a great relationship with (Aleksandar) Kolarov at Man City as well, from Serbia.
“Of course, it’s nice to see people that you know, but for me, it’s not a big deal.”