Louis van Gaal given warm reception in Manchester
Louis van Gaal, greeted gathered journalists for the first time at Manchester United’s Carrington training ground, with the air of someone who had just won the World Cup, never mind finished first.
Elegantly dressed in a stonewash grey suit of the finest cotton, and official club tie, his initiation in front of the British media could certainly have been more taxing.
Opening with a charming statement about his employers, Van Gaal was obviously keen to get off on the right foot.
“First of all I want to thank Sir Bobby Charlton as it is a great honour to come into this stadium,” the Dutchman said, referring to Old Trafford.
Speaking about his past clubs, Van Gaal maintained that he was always in the right league at the right time.
“When I was at Ajax, it was the best league in the world, when I was at Barcelona it was the best league, when I was at Bayern Munich in Germany it was the best league,” he continued with a twinkle in his eye.
His affirmation was meant in good humour, and it was greeted with a number of laughs within the media room. Journalists took it as an invitation to press ahead, asking the successor to David Moyes what fans could expect from the team next season.
“For me, the challenge is always to come first. Not fourth. But that depends on things clicking between the players and manager. I have a strong philosophy. Sir Alex Ferguson did too, and he won a lot of titles. I hope I can do that.
“First of all I have to see how the players perform my philosophy and how quickly they pick it up. I haven’t worked with most of them so we have to wait and see – it’s very important that there is a click between the players and the manager. For me the challenge is first and not fourth, but when you analyse it it’s about the click.”
Regarding the expectations that the club has in place, and considering the commercial impact of missing out on Champions League football this season, Van Gaal is confident he can handle the pressure to deliver.
“I think I can. But it is difficult because the greatness of this club is more than other clubs. And this club is guided in a commercial way and it is not always possible to meet commercial and football expectations. That is my big challenge after two days.”
He will no doubt face tougher obstacles throughout the season, than his unveiling to the British media. For now though at least, odds of 5/1 to win the Premier League next term are understandably enticing. If Van Gaal is true to his word they will certainly be there or thereabouts