Bullish Van Gaal targets title success in his first season
New Manchester United manager confident he can deliver glory to Old Trafford
New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: “It is the biggest club because of world renown but in sport you are never the biggest unless you’ve proved it every season.” Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
The new Old Trafford manager has already suffered a first setback with Michael Carrick ruled out for up to 12 weeks with an ankle injury but he has suggested there could yet be roles for Paul Scholes and Phil Neville at the club.
Regarding ambitions the 62-year-old was asked if Champions League qualification is the minimum requirement next season.
“For me, the challenge is always to come first, not fourth,” Van Gaal said. “But that depends on things clicking between the players and manager. I have a strong philosophy. Sir Alex Ferguson did too, and he won a lot of titles. I hope I can do that.
“First of all I have to see how the players perform my philosophy and how quickly they pick it up. I haven’t worked with most of them so we have to wait and see – it’s very important that there is a click between the players and the manager. When you analyse it it’s about the click.”
Despite having managed Barcelona and Bayern Munich, two of the world’s biggest clubs, Van Gaal seemed taken aback by the size and demands of United. The day he officially started, United announced another sponsor, taking the number affiliated with the club close to 40.
First campaignWhen answering his first question, regarding his aim for United in his first campaign, Van Gaal pointed to commercial demands. “I will do my utmost,” he said. “That’s the best that I can give. I cannot give predictions because you never know. It’s the biggest club in the world and within two days I know already how important Manchester United is, but also how important the sponsors are and I have to work and prepare a team and I have to adapt to this big club. It will not be easy but when you see my career you see what I have won. The future shall show if I can do it again.”
Asked if he can meet the expectations of the 20-times champions, again Van Gaal cited the tension between the on and off-field roles of United.
“I think I can. But it is difficult because the greatness of this club is more than other clubs. And this club is guided in a commercial way and it is not always possible to meet commercial and football expectations,” he said.
“It is the biggest club because of world renown but in sport you are never the biggest unless you’ve proved it every season. You are not the biggest if last season you were seventh. Then you are not the biggest but are well known all over the world. In China and Brazil people talked about Man Utd when I was coach of the Dutch team. There is a lot of expectation.
“It is a great challenge because of that. Barca were No 1 in Spain, Ajax No 1 in the Netherlands and Bayern Munich No 1 in Germany and now Man Utd No 1 in England and I hope I shall fulfil the expectation.
My philosophy“The owners and CEO have a lot of confidence in me and because of that they have come to me. I have explained my philosophy and they were excited and that is why I am here. That is why we have to see if I can fulfil the expectations and that of the fans. But in the world of football you cannot predict.”
With United stating that Carrick had surgery yesterday morning to left ankle ligaments, Van Gaal said: “Michael Carrick was injured which is a big blow because he is an experienced player. It is important we have experienced players, not only age and football experience but as human beings.”
The captaincyAlthough Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, who was Van Gaal’s captain as he guided Holland to third place at the World Cup, are favourites to be his United leader, the manager again asked for patience.
“All player are candidates for the captaincy. It is a very important role so I need time,” he said. “
With Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera already recruited, Van Gaal once more stated the need to wait before deciding who else he may bring in. “My method is always the same and I want to look at the players present. Of course I know how they play but I do not know the players I have trained. So the first three to four weeks I will see how they can do and then maybe I shall buy other players . . . . ”
Regarding Scholes and Neville he said: “Nicky Butt is already assisting. We shall find a role for Scholes and Neville. That is what we want, but it has to be possible.”
Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand is set to complete a move to QPR after the former Manchester United and England defender passed his medical. The 35-year-old has been a free agent since his 12-year stay at Old Trafford came to an end when his contract expired last month.