Van Gaal arrives at Manchester United

Preier League title the goal for Dutchman’s debut season

New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal and  assistant manager Ryan Giggs  at the club’s  Carrington training complex yesterday. Photograph:  John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal and assistant manager Ryan Giggs at the club’s Carrington training complex yesterday. Photograph: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images


Louis van Gaal began his first official day as Manchester United manager yesterday by being briefed by his staff, Albert Stuivenberg, Marcel Bout and Ryan Giggs, regarding which players had impressed during his absence, before the Dutchman took his first session at 5.30pm.

Van Gaal addressed the players regarding his ambitions – he stated that reclaiming the championship is next season’s aim – but it was Stuivenberg, his assistant coach, and Bout, the chief opposition scout, who had led the debrief regarding the squad, with his countrymen having emerged as the more prominent figures when leading training.

Van Gaal landed at Manchester airport at 11.50am before being taken in a club car to Carrington. He was shown around a “buzzing” complex, including the manager’s office previously occupied by David Moyes and Alex Ferguson.

Van Gaal was unable to meet all of the club staff but at 1pm he had lunch with the first-team and youth players plus their respective coaching staffs, as he had ordered, and which will be the ongoing routine.

Posed for pictures

He then posed for pictures alongside Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, and Giggs. The players had been at Carrington since 9.30am for the first of the double sessions Van Gaal has ordered, with the first of them being taken by his backroom team. After lunch the squad were told to report back for the 5.30pm session, with players free to go home or sleep on site, as Van Gaal prepared to lead them for the first time.

With Van Gaal’s transfer priorities a centre back and central midfielder, the Dutchman took particular note of Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley during training. Because the former has two years left on his contract and the latter a year, their futures are under threat as the manager decides who should be part of his plans.

Van Gaal wants to buy Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen, and Smalling could be offered as a makeweight in any deal if Arsene Wenger wants to ensure he has a replacement for the Belgian.

Other players who have two years or less remaining on their terms and who Van Gaal is assessing include Javier Hernandez, Shinji Kagawa, Darren Fletcher and Ashley Young.

With United flying to America tomorrow for their summer tour, Van Gaal will effectively use the coming week until the first game, against LA Galaxy on July 24th in Pasadena, to assess which of these six stays.

As today is expected to be a day off for the squad to be with their families before flying to Los Angeles tomorrow, Van Gaal will devote the day to speaking with Woodward and agents regarding his pursuit of players, with Mats Hummels another potential acquisition.

One who will not be joining is Arturo Vidal, according to Giuseppe Marotta, the Juventus chief executive officer, who stated the Chilean was “not for sale” and was content at the club.

The move from Marotta to clarify the midfielder’s position would seem to confirm Vidal will remain at Juventus. “Vidal is not for sale,” said the Italian. “He is one of the most important players in the squad. He is happy to be here. We’ve never put him up for sale. Important clubs have asked after him but we have never sat down to talk. The player decides and yesterday Vidal showed that he is happy to continue with us.” Guardian service

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