|Louis van Gaal
London: Manchester United returned to a tried and trusted trophy winner after an ill-fated adventure with David Moyes when announcing that Dutchman Louis van Gaal had been handed the job of reviving the club’s fortunes, on Monday.
The 62-year-old, who has masterminded league titles at some of Europe’s biggest clubs including Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and won the Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam, will begin the re-building job at Old Trafford once he has finished national duties at the World Cup.
Ryan Giggs, United’s record appearance maker, will work alongside him after his four-game stint in charge following the sacking last month of Moyes, given the chance on the back of a long and worthy, but success-starved, 11-year stint in charge of Everton.
While Moyes made the mistake of ditching Ferguson’s backroom staff in his first days in charge, Van Gaal’s acclimatisation at Old Trafford will be aided by the fact that Giggs will be his right-hand man. A hugely influential figure at the club, Giggs announced on Monday that his playing days are over.
Giggs, who made record 963 appearances, winning 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions League trophies, announced his decision via an open letter on the club’s website.
“I would like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from professional football and embark upon a new and exciting chapter in my life,” the 40-year-old Giggs said. “I am immensely proud, honoured and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times.
“My dream was always to play for Manchester United and although it saddens me to know I won’t be pulling on a United jersey again as a player, I have been lucky enough to have fulfilled that dream playing with some of the best players in the world, working under an incredible manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and most of all, playing for the greatest fans in world football,” he said.
Van Gaal will also bring Netherlands’ goal-keeping coach Frans Hoek and scouting specialist Marcel Bout to the club as assistant coaches.
“In Louis van Gaal, we have secured the services of one of the outstanding managers in the game today,” United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement that announced the Dutchman had signed a three-year contract and would start work after leading the Netherlands in the World Cup finals.
“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.
“Everyone is very excited about this new phase in the club’s history. His track record of success in winning leagues and cups across Europe throughout his career makes him the perfect choice for us.”
Van Gaal, who has already been working behind the scenes with United officials regarding potential transfers, said: “It was always a wish for me to work in the Premier League. To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world, makes me very proud.
“This club has big ambitions; I too have big ambitions. Together I’m sure we will make history.”
A year on from the bold decision to replace English football’s most successful manager Alex Ferguson with fellow Scot Moyes – mainly on Ferguson’s recommendation – the club’s owners, stung by the financial impact of failure to qualify for the Champions League, have played it safe.
In Van Gaal they have recruited a manager who will command huge respect in the dressing room and in the transfer market and whose methods have stood the test of time. He will need all his vast experience too as United attempt to repair the damage done by the 10-month Moyes era, which resulted in a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League.
The magnitude of the Old Trafford job was clearly beyond Moyes but Van Gaal has sat comfortably – and certainly confidently – in some of the most pressurised hot-seats in world football despite occasional glitches and fall-outs.