Fall from grace

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BERLIN, March 7- By his own admission "arrogant and dominant", Louis van Gaal put several noses out of joint at Bayern Munich in his two years as coach, but he also put a fair bit of silverware in the trophy cabinet.

Combative and prickly with players and journalists alike, the 59-year-old Dutchman finally fell out of favour with Bayern’s bosses only one year after taking them to a German league and cup double and a Champions League final.

Germany’s most successful club announced Monday he would continue at Bayern until the end of the season but would then be replaced, one year before his contract was due to expire.

Following successful spells at Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam, Van Gaal was recruited from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in 2009 after Bayern dumped Germany legend Jurgen Klinsmann following a string of poor results.

Apparently aware in advance of Van Gaal’s fearsome reputation, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on signing him: "If we had wanted someone who is everyone’s darling, we would have signed George Clooney."

And Van Gaal did not disappoint.

Having famously declared: "I am the best" after winning the Dutch league, he described himself on arrival in Munich as "confident, arrogant, dominant and honest, a workaholic, innovative, but also warm and family-friendly".

After a slow start, van Gaal took the German giants to a 22nd league title, their 15th Cup and a Champions League final in which they lost 2-0 to a Jose Mourinho-inspired Inter Milan.

The Champions League quarter-final home win against Manchester United will go down in Bayern folklore, an injury-time goal giving them a 2-1 win and revenge for the 1999 final when a last gasp United winner cost Bayern dear.

But the 2010-2011 season was less prolific and speculation over Van Gaal’s future hit fever-pitch after Bayern lost three games in a row, the first time that had happened in more than 10 years.

Dumped out of the cup at the semi-final stage by Schalke, back-to-back Bundesliga defeats, including a 3-1 shocker at Hanover, seemed to be the last straw for a club that has come to expect success.

During his time at the Munich club, Van Gaal managed to fall out with almost everyone, famously describing some of his players as "cissies" and walking out of several interviews after berating journalists for "stupid questions".

Even before Bayern had decided to cut his tenure, a year before his contract ran out, Van Gaal had indicated he would only sign one more contract after 2012, either with the German side or as a national coach.

"I’m not working for the money any more. I am just doing it for fun," he said.

"I have a very nice life. A lovely wife, two beautiful children — and I have won a lot of titles."

The last point in particular is beyond doubt. In addition to his success in Germany and in the Netherlands with Alkmaar, Van Gaal won back-to-back La Liga titles with Barcelona (1998 and 1999), also winning the Spanish cup in 1998.

With Dutch legends Ajax, he won the championship three times in a row (1994, 1995 and 1996) as well as bringing the UEFA Cup and the Champions League crown to the Netherlands.

He also coached the Dutch national team in 2000-1.

Now attention turns to a successor that can give Bayern the success they crave, with several names, including former Spurs boss Martin Jol, reportedly in the frame.

With a characteristic lack of modesty and an undertone of spite, Van Gaal himself said in late 2010 that he would not be easy to replace.

"There are not many who have my experience and track record," he said.

"(Manchester United’s Sir Alex) Ferguson, Mourinho and (England boss Fabio) Capello maybe, but they need to be able to speak German and Capello still can’t speak English," said Van Gaal in his own heavily accented German.

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