|Manchester United’s new coach Louis van Gaal and Bobby Charlton,
at a media conference, on Thursday
Manchester: New Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal said he believes he can meet expectations for success at “the biggest club in the world” but refused to indulge in forecasts when he was introduced to the media at Old Trafford on Thursday.
The Dutchman, smiling and looking relaxed after arriving from his stint as Netherlands manager at the World Cup, also made clear that the commercial demands at United would make his job harder.
“I’m now two days here,” Van Gaal told reporters. “I’ve met a lot of people, and when you see that kind of people loving the club, they expect a lot of me.
“Can I fulfil that expectation? I think I can, but because of the greatness of this club, it is much more difficult than in another club.
“This club is also guided in a commercial way and we have to fulfil that also, but it is not always possible to fulfil both. I will do my best. That’s what I can give. I cannot give predictions.”
The former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach added: “I cannot give predictions because you never know. It’s the biggest club in the world. Within two days, I know already how important Manchester United is… And also how important the sponsors are.
“I have to adapt to this big club. It will not be easy, but you can see what I have won.”
The 62-year-old coach has been asked to make United a force again after last season’s disappointing campaign under David Moyes. They finished seventh in the Premier League and failed to secure a place in European football.
United, who this week announced a record kit deal worth $130 million a season for 10 years, have added England defender Luke Shaw and Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera to their squad this summer for a combined cost of £56 million ($95.75 million).
Van Gaal said he had approved their signings from a list of transfer targets compiled by Moyes, but the Dutchman added that he would wait to assess the United squad before trying to buy more new players.
“First, I want to see the players performing my philosophy,” he said. “Then, I will think about signing players.
Van Gaal guided the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup finals in Brazil in his second spell in charge of the national team.
He has previously won domestic championships with Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AZ Alkmaar — including titles in his first season with Barcelona (1998) and Bayern (2010).
Asked what he would characterise as success in his first season at United, he said: “I don’t know. First I need to see how quick the players can pick up my philosophy. 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 always first not fourth.”
His reference to players and manager “clicking” was pertinent, since Van Gaal, while boasting many admirers, has also attracted a reputation as a disciplinarian.
But he said: “I’m democratic ... I am an empathetic human being.”
When it was put to him that he could be seen as autocratic, he said: “That is unfair. The media wants to show that part of the personality.
“When you repeat that (idea), everyone thinks it is like that. Of course, I have a strong philosophy. (But) Sir Alex Ferguson has also a strong philosophy and he won a lot of titles.”