On Thursday afternoon, new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, joined by United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, with the media for the first time in the Europa suite at Old Trafford. Many will have seen a huge change at the club over the last fifteen months with the stepping down of Sir Alex Ferguson to the devastating first season of David Moyes, which ended with Welsh winger Ryan Giggs taking charge of the club for the remaining four matches and Van Gaal stepping into the role this summer, with Giggs retiring from his playing career to assume the role of the Dutch managers assistant, which will be a great role for him.
Before starting the press conference, the new United manager said:
“It was a great honour to take my first steps in the stadium with Sir Bobby.”
Louis van Gaal on the expectation he will have whilst holding the reins at the Old Trafford club:
“When there is a challenge like this, I never let it go. This is a holiday for me. I like the way I can work.
“I will do my utmost best. That’s what I can give. I cannot give predictions [about how well we will do] because you never know. It’s the biggest club of the world. Within two days I know already how important Manchester United is. I have to work, I have to prepare a team, I have to adapt to this big club. It shall not be easy but I will do my utmost best and when you see my career you can see what I have won. That’s all I can say. The future shall show if I can do that again.”
Van Gaal on his management style:
“I’m democratic, empathetic to human beings. Of course I have a strong personality, but the other characteristics are more important. That’s the key of my personality.”
Those who say Van Gaal is autocratic are – “unfair because the media want to show that part of the personality. When you repeat that, everybody thinks like that.
“I have a strong philosophy and every year I have trained is confirming that philosophy. Sir Alex also had a strong philosophy and I think it was a very good one.”
The manager confirmed that Sir Alex Ferguson called him to congratulate him on getting the job and they had a coffee and something to eat together – “We always had a glass of wine when the lights were out. We know each other well. I will drink coffee and wine with him!”
Van Gaal on his excitement to take the job at the Old Trafford club:
“It’s difficult to describe. I have been here two days and met a lot of people. When you see those kind of people, loving the club, it is a big family and they expect a lot of me. They are very excited to meet me. Can I fulfil that expectation? I think I can do it but because of the greatness of this club, it is also much more difficult than at another club.”
Van Gaal on how the big the club is globally:
“It’s the biggest club because of how well its known around the world. In sport, you are never the biggest club because every season you have to prove [it]. Last year you were seventh so then you are not the biggest club. But it’s well-known all over the world. When I was in China or Brazil, people are talking about United when I was the coach of the Dutch team. That’s the difference. There’s a lot of expectation but it’s also a great challenge because of that.
“Therefore I have chosen this club. I worked for Barcelona – in my opinion, number one in Spain. I’ve coached Ajax – number one in the Netherlands – and I’ve coached Bayern – number one in Germany. Now I’m in Manchester United – number one in England. I hope I fulfill the expectation but it shall be difficult.”
Van Gaal on Class of ’92 members who will be retained by the club, which is good news:
“Nicky Butt is already assisting us, Paul Scholes we shall find a role for him, also for Phil Neville I believe. That’s what we want but it has to also be possible. But we have to also adapt to the qualities of these persons. It is not an easy job. We have to speak about that with them and that’s why we have to wait and see.”
Van Gaal on the clubs captaincy. The media have suggested that Robin van Persie will get the role:
“All the players are candidates. It’s an important role. I need time.”
Van Gaal on Wayne Rooney and the other experienced players at the club. The manager also confirmed that Michael Carrick is injured:
“I am not always convinced of the experience of players because I have said a lot of times in the media, a boy like Clarence Seedorf was 16 years old and I gave him his debut at Ajax and sometimes he was more experienced than a player of 30 years old. It is always dependable on the personality. You named Rooney but Carrick was injured on the last day or the day before that it is also a big blow because he is an experienced player.”
Here is a video of the press conference held at Old Trafford on Thursday afternoon.
Manchester United travel to the United States of America tomorrow ahead of their pre-season tour with them facing LA Galaxy, AS Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. All matches will be shown live on MUTV HD (timings can be found on the website). The squad travelling to the USA will be announced by the club tomorrow, we will bring you that when we know.