Here are five ways the appointment of the Dutchman will transform a club still reeling from one of their worst seasons in living memory.
1. Advantage Van Persie
Perhaps the most immediate and tangible impact of Van Gaal’s appointment is likely to come in the appointment of a new captain. Had Moyes still been in charge this summer, there is little doubt that the man asked to replace the iconic Nemanja Vidic would have been Wayne Rooney – a player Moyes did everything to placate, bringing him in from the cold after he was cast out by Sir Alex Ferguson and giving him the biggest contract English football has ever known. Rooney, though, is likely to see his captaincy ambitions curbed by Van Gaal, who has installed Robin van Persie as his captain with Netherlands and will surely do the same at Old Trafford. Indeed, Van Gaal’s appointment marks a turning point in the Rooney-Van Persie balance of power, as the Dutchman knows his compatriot intimately and knows how to get the best out of him. Reports that Rooney is already wary of what the appointment means for his future speak for themselves.
2. Key tenets of United’s identity will be restored
After the brief yet ruinous David Moyes era sent United back to the dark ages as far as their approach to the game was concerned, Van Gaal brings with him a much-desired focus on attacking, attractive football which had previously been a United hallmark. When asked recently what set him apart from other coaches, the man who graduated as a coach at the famous Ajax school said: “It’s my philosophy – because it binds players with my training. Players find it nice to take part in it, because it’s attacking, technical and tactical. You have to play as a team and not as individuals.” Clarence Seedorf once said of the Ajax side which conquered Europe under Van Gaal: "The focal point of training sessions is the ball itself. Only those who show perfect control of the ball in every situation are selected." Good news for Adnan Januzaj, perhaps not for Marouane Fellaini.
3. He will focus on bringing through youngsters
Another prominent element of the United philosophy is offering opportunities to young players, and Van Gaal has undeniably done that throughout his career. He guided a fledgling Ajax side to Champions League glory in 1995 – as well as going unbeaten in their domestic league and scoring over 100 goals - with teenagers such as Patrick Kluivert playing a starring role. Indeed, only two starters were over the age of 25 when they beat AC Milan 1-0 in Vienna. During his time as Bayern Munich, during which he reached another Champions League final, he helped bring through players such as Toni Kroos, David Alaba and Thomas Mueller. Already there are suggestions he has discussed with Giggs which young players to promote.
4. He will win trophies, and build for future success
While Moyes did not have a proper trophy to his name before replacing the most successful manager in the history of the English game, Van Gaal has won the league at every club he has managed - Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich - and has 19 trophies in total, including both the Champions League and UEFA Cup with Ajax. Moreover, Van Gaal is a man who builds for the future and leaves deep and lasting foundations - important for United giving he is already 62. Bayern Munich credit him for setting the club on course for the extreme success they have enjoyed under Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola, while he also helped restore Barcelona's reputation and bring through a couple of midfielders by the name of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
5. The Class of 92 have been put back a year
Though Ryan Giggs, who flew to the Netherlands last week to hold talks with Van Gaal in a meeting which is said to have lasted three hours, does form part of the Dutchman’s backroom staff, any wholesale takeover of the famous Class of 92 has been put on hold. Van Gaal is expected to bring with him Frans Hoek as goalkeeping coach and Max Reckers as video analyst, while he will appoint another Dutch assistant to his staff to help ease his transition. It remains to be seen what place there may be for the likes of Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, who clubbed together to help Giggs for the final games of the Premier League season.
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- Louis van Gaal
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