Van Gaal unhappy with distraction of United’s commercial obligations

‘You have to travel distances, you have to fly a lot, you have also jet lag, and that is not very positive for a good preparation’

Louis van Gaal says he will have a say in next year’s pre-season schedule at Manchester United. Photograph:  Clive Mason/Getty Images

Louis van Gaal says he will have a say in next year’s pre-season schedule at Manchester United. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 10:54

Louis van Gaal thinks Manchester United are putting his chances of success in jeopardy by dragging the first-team squad across the United States on their pre-season tour.

United start their pre-season campaign in the early hours of Thursday morning when they face the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California.

It will be the first game of a two-and-a-half-week long tour that could see United travel almost 13,500 miles if they reach the final of the International Champions Cup - the pre-season tournament which includes some of the best clubs in Europe.

After the game in LA, United travel to Denver, Washington DC, Detroit and they will then make the three-hour flight to Miami if they top their group, which contains Roma, Real Madrid and Inter Milan.

In between the matches, the players have to appear at sponsor events while they are also duty-bound to conduct interviews for the club’s in-house TV channel.

It all seems too much for Van Gaal, who made his annoyance perfectly clear at his first pre-match press conference in the US.

When asked whether United’s commercial commitments were impinging on football matters, Van Gaal said: “More or less, yes, because we have to prepare the season and when you have a lot of commercial activities also for the players, and you have to travel distances, you have to fly a lot, you have also jet lag, and that is not very positive for a good preparation.

“But the tour was already arranged so I have to adapt, I shall adapt.”

Van Gaal has only been in place for a week, but he has already made his disquiet about United’s commercial activities clear on two occasions.

As well as Tuesday night’s complaint, Van Gaal said at his unveiling: “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.”

Van Gaal’s blunt and honest assessment flew in the face of comments made his boss Ed Woodward less than 24 hours earlier.

Responding to the comments made by Van Gaal at his unveiling, United’s executive vice-chairman said on Monday: “It doesn’t disrupt the football club.”

Woodward said he was open to discussions with Van Gaal about where he thought the club should go on tour next year.

Keen to maximise their profits and broaden their fan-base, United have been on long-haul tours for the last 10 years.

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