Louis Van Gaal may put paradise on hold to extend stay
Manchester United manager’s ambition is to win Champions League
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal smiles during a press conference ahead of Wolfsburg’s visit to Old Trafford. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images
There was a moment as Louis van Gaal held court with Bastian Schweinsteiger, contemplating what it would need to add another Champions League to their long and distinguished careers, when the Manchester United manager was informed of something that Alex Ferguson had said about what it was like once you got “the bug” at Old Trafford.
Ferguson, described by the Daily Telegraph once as The Man Who Couldn’t Retire, had been discussing whether Van Gaal might find it equally as hard severing his ties when his contract expires at the end of next season. His conclusion was that Van Gaal might also decide to stay longer, on the basis that “once you get bitten, it is very difficult to walk away”.
The response from Van Gaal was certainly not a flat denial. “Normally I shall leave after next year but what is normal in our football world?” the Dutch man said. “You never know, so I cannot answer that question, but I did promise my wife to go with her to our paradise, so it shall be very hard for me to deny her that promise.
“I was 55 [when I first said I would retire] and then I went to Bayern Munich and next year I am 65. If I say I want to stay a year longer it shall be very hard for my wife.”
The place he calls paradise is his holiday home on the Algarve, where he and Truus plan to spend their retirement, and if Van Gaal goes through with those plans he is not leaving himself a great deal of opportunity – two seasons – to fulfil his ambition of winning the European Cup for a second time.
United’s defeat against PSV Eindhoven has left them under pressure to deliver a better performance when they play Wolfsburg, who currently lie fourth in the Bundesliga.
This is the first time United have gone into their second group game without a point since losing to Juventus in 1996 and Wolfsburg’s 5-1 defeat at Bayern last week was their first defeat in 15 matches.
Dieter Hecking has been voted the Bundesliga’s manager of the year after winning the German Cup last season, followed by beating Bayern on penalties to lift the German Super Cup.
They could potentially be tricky opponents, winning their first game against CSKA Moscow, but there is clearly a gulf between Bayern and the other Bundesliga teams – Pep Guardiola’s side have also inflicted a 6-1 away win on Wolfsburg in the last 18 months – whereas United have been showing signs of improvement and Ferguson’s verdict last week was that the collapsed transfer of the goalkeeper David de Gea to Real Madrid “might actually win us the league”.
Van Gaal also considered the domestic championship to be “realistic” and was typically modest when asked to expand on his reasons. “Because I did it everywhere,” came the reply. Guardian Service