Belfast Telegraph

Old Trafford supremo will take no prisoners in quest to make history

By Ian Herbert

There was an immediate acknowledgement from the top of Manchester United that the new man who has said he wants to "make history" at Old Trafford can be a challenging one.

Louis van Gaal – the club's first foreign manager, whose No 2 will be Ryan Giggs, is "a larger than life character", said chief executive Ed Woodward.

But Woodward spoke of an intellect and thoughtfulness he has discerned in the 62-year-old, whom he is understood to have appointed on the basis of three meetings at the Dutchman's home in Noordwijk, after conversations which began 48 hours after the dismissal of David Moyes on April 22.

Van Gaal's full name – Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal – might imply a less than symbiotic relationship with Giggs, an adoptive son of Stretford who announced his own retirement at 3.00pm yesterday, within an hour of United confirming Moyes's successor.

But one of the key components of the new manager's modus operandi suggests that the two could reach a rapid accommodation.

Van Gaal always retains a member of the establishment at his new clubs, entrusting him with the task of who, from the existing youth ranks, might best be developed for the first team.

Giggs's desire to see other members of the Class of '92 with him in Van Gaal's backroom team remained unfulfilled last night, with United yet to undertake talks with Phil Neville, Nicky Butt or Paul Scholes, about their own futures.

Woodward has been committed throughout to retaining a strong link to the past whilst going in pursuit of a manager who will be expected to deliver United back to the top four next season.

But all three, and especially Scholes, will want a meaningful role.

Van Gaal, who has been handed a three-year contract, immediately proclaimed his determination to make history at Old Trafford.

"This club has big ambitions; I too have big ambitions. Together I'm sure we will make history," he said.

The club's aspiration is to win next season's Premier League and Van Gaal will supervise the spending of an estimated £150m – with Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos and Borussia Dortmund centre half Mats Hummels both possible targets, as well as Southampton's Luke Shaw, for whom United are likely to raise an initial £27m bid.

Van Gaal's penchant for players without big egos, willing to submit themselves to his team ethic and 4-3-3 style, makes Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller (right) – whom the Dutchman was the first to coach at a senior level – another possible target.

Van Gaal, who will not be presented as United's new manager until a press conference preceding the club's pre-season tour of the United States in July, has brought compatriots Frans Hoek and Marcel Bout with him as goalkeeping coach and assistant coach, specialising in opposition scouting.

The departure of current goalkeeping coach Chris Woods is imminent now.

He will take no prisoners. Some of the Dutch journalists with whom he retains email contact cite Rivaldo, at Barcelona, as the best example of his refusal to tolerate egos, while at Bayern Munich Franck Ribery struggled to cope with him.

"When the coach always speaks badly about you, when he keeps on putting you down, then it is tough," Ribery said when struggling to deal with a manager who generally takes a time to deliver results, as players try to adapt to his ways.

But the Dutchman's fearlessness in promoting from the youth ranks was best illustrated by the valedictory messages Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes posted on the club's website.

He thanked Van Gaal for giving him his chance and for trusting in the "talent that only your eyes can see."

Jose Mourinho, whom Van Gaal promoted from translator to coach at Barcelona after recognising him as an asset, said last night that the Dutchman was "a great football manager ... but more important than that, he's a great guy, a great man and I wish him well."

Sir Alex Ferguson's former assistant Mike Phelan said: "'He's now stepped into the shoes of Sir Alex and all the history that comes with Sir Alex, and he's now going to have to get the players to perform better than they have done in the past season."

Woodward continued: "In Louis van Gaal, we have secured the services of one of the outstanding managers in the game today.

"He has achieved many things in his career to date and Old Trafford provides him with a fitting stage on which to write new chapters in the Manchester United story.

"His track record of success in winning leagues and cups across Europe throughout his career makes him the perfect choice for us.

"People know him as a larger than life character but I have also been extremely impressed by his intelligence, thoughtful approach to the role and his diligence. I'm looking forward to working with him."

There was no Twitter message celebrating the new manager's arrival from Wayne Rooney last night, as there had been after the appointment of Moyes, who was ready to appoint him as captain next season.

Louis Van Gaal factfile

1951: Born August 8 in Amsterdam.

1972: Signs professional forms with Ajax.

1973: After only one season leaves Ajax to join Belgian side Royal Antwerp.

1977: Returns to the Netherlands and signs for Telstar.

1978: Joins Sparta Rotterdam.

1986: After making 248 appearances for Rotterdam, he leaves to join AZ Alkmaar.

1987: Ends playing career at AZ but remains at the club in a coaching capacity.

1988: Returns to Ajax to become manager Leo Beenhakker's assistant.

1991: Promoted to head coach at Ajax as Beenhakker leaves to take over at Real Madrid.

1992: Announces himself immediately on the European stage by beating Torino on away goals in the UEFA Cup final.

1993: Wins more silverware in the form of the Dutch Super Cup and the National Cup.

1994: Leads Ajax to the Eredivisie title and makes it back-to-back Dutch Super Cup victories.

1995: Retains the title in style, with Ajax remaining unbeaten, beats AC Milan 1-0 in the final to win Ajax's first Champions League title (above) for 22 years and takes home third Dutch Super Cup in three years. Follows up that success by winning the European Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.

1996: Makes it three Eredivisie titles in three years, but falls just short of back-to-back Champions League triumphs as Ajax are edged out 4-2 on penalties against Juventus in the final.

1997: Leaves Ajax at the end of his contract to take over from Bobby Robson at Barcelona.

1998: Wins the first of two back-to-back La Liga titles and also picks up the Copa Del Rey.

2000: Walks away from Barcelona and assumes control of the Dutch national team ahead of the 2002 World Cup but they fail to qualify and Van Gaal later steps down in 2002.

2002: Returns to the Nou Camp, but endures a tough time and sacked in 2003.

2005: New boss at AZ Alkmaar.

2009: Leads AZ to their first Eredivisie title for 28 years, before heading to Germany to take over at European heavyweights Bayern Munich.

2010: Became first ever Dutch coach to win the Bundesliga and also takes home the DFB-Pokal to secure a domestic double. Sacked in 2011.

2012: Starts a second spell in charge of the Dutch national team and they qualify for the World Cup.

2014: Announced as new Man United manager.


New man's trophy haul

Holland coach Louis van Gaal will take over as Manchester United manager following this summer's World Cup.

Here, Belfast Telegraph Sport takes a look at Van Gaal's trophy successes at his previous clubs.


Champions League: 1995

UEFA Cup: 1992

UEFA Super Cup: 1995

Eredivisie: 1994, 1995, 1996

Intercontinental Cup: 1995

Johan Cruyff Shield: 1993, 1994, 1995

KNVB-Beker: 1993



Primera Division: 1998, 1999

Copa Del Rey: 1998

UEFA Super Cup: 1997



Eredivisie: 2009


Bundesliga: 2010

DFB-Pokal: 2010

DFB-Supercup: 2010


World Soccer Manager of the Year: 1995

Dutch Sports Coach of the Year: 2009

German Football Manager of the Year: 2010

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