Louis van Gaal has, as expected, been appointed as the new manager of Manchester United, and has immediately set his sights on glory.
When Sir Alex Ferguson announced his decision to call time on his lengthy spell at Old Trafford at the end of last season, he chose David Moyes as his successor. But a disastrous campaign saw the former Everton boss given his marching orders last month, less than 12 months into the six-year contract he was handed upon his arrival in the summer.
Van Gaal, who had previously flirted with the idea of managing Tottenham Hotspur, was immediately installed as the favourite to take the reins. The 62-year-old becomes a free agent when his term as head coach of the Holland national side comes to an end after the World Cup Finals, and he has now put pen-to-paper on a three-year contract.
“It was always a wish for me to work in the Premier League,” van Gaal said on Monday. “To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world, makes me very proud. I have managed in games at Old Trafford before and know what an incredible arena Old Trafford is and how passionate and knowledgeable the fans are. This club has big ambitions; I too have big ambitions. Together I’m sure we will make history.”
When it comes to a glittering CV, few can match the Dutchman. He has won league titles at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AZ Alkmaar and Ajax, the latter of whom he also won the UEFA Champions League with in 1995. Currently in his second spell as Oranje coach, he leads his side into the summer tournament as one of the favourites to succeed in Brazil.
Van Gaal brings compatriots Frans Hoek and Marcel Bout to Manchester with his as assistant coaches, but of more significance is his decision to appoint club legend Ryan Giggs as his assistant manager. The Welshman, who briefly took over as manager when Moyes was sacked has called time on his remarkable playing career to focus on his new role.
“I am thrilled to have the chance to serve as assistant manager,” he said. “Louis van Gaal is a world-class coach and I know I will learn a lot about coaching from being able to observe and contribute at such close quarters. Manchester United has been a huge part of my life and I’m delighted to be able to continue that relationship in such a key role.”
Having finished in seventh place in the Premier League this season, there will no European football on the agenda at Old Trafford next term. However, United will no doubt take encouragement from their rivals Liverpool, who were in an identical position last term and were still in with a shout of the title heading into the final weekend.
Van Gaal is expected to be given a healthy transfer budget this summer, with Southampton fullback Luke Shaw widely tipped to join for £27million. Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos is also believed to be a top target, whilst there have even been suggestions that his Allianz Arena team-mate Arjen Robben could also be lined up, whilst at least one centre-half will be sought following the exits of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Of the players who will be awaiting his arrival, it is widely believed that Robin van Persie will succeed Vidic as captain. Van Gaal has always spoke glowingly of his compatriot, who he has made captain for Holland. This may come as a blow to Wayne Rooney, who is likely to have wanted the armband after signing a new contract in recent months.