London: Louis van Gaal, the Manchester United manager, has stressed again that he is in for the long haul at Old Trafford as he looks to restore the club’s fortunes.
Much of United’s pre-season optimism was punctured with a 1-2 home defeat by Swansea City on the opening day of the season, while the £16million capture of defender Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon is only the third new signing of this summer.
United also have major injury problems, with midfielder Ander Herrera added to the absentee list for Sunday’s trip to Sunderland with an ankle injury, and Van Gaal admits it will take time to re-build a team who finished seventh in the Premier League last season.
“It is always like that. Two weeks ago I was the king of Manchester and now I’m the devil of Manchester,” said the Dutchman, who had overseen a five-game unbeaten run on the club’s pre-season tour of America.
“That’s the football world and especially the media in this football world. I think the fans of Manchester are intelligent. I’ve already said that the first three months will be difficult for the players and the fans. I’ve said it to [Ed] Woodward [the chief executive] and the Glazers that this is what it is.
“They have hired me for my philosophy, not because I’m a nice guy. I am a nice guy, but that’s not why I was brought here.
“I’m not hired to be fired. I’m hired to build up a team. That process needs time. I bring another philosophy in the club. You have to believe in the philosophy that again we make a big club but it needs time. It is not an overnight job.”
Former United midfielder Paul Scholes has joined the criticism of the club’s current status, saying that he was “genuinely scared” about their future prospects if they do not swiftly arrest their decline.
Van Gaal admitted he shared the concerns of those watching the team but also asked them to believe in his vision. “I can imagine that the fans are also scared because have seen the last year and they have seen now the first home match,” the United manager said.
Although he will have Robin van Persie available for the trip to Sunderland, he will be without Maroune Fellaini, Jonny Evans, Michael Carrick, Luke Shaw, Anders Lindegaard and Rafael, while Rojo has still to receive a work permit.
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH