Skip to main content

Louis van Gaal takes charge at Manchester United

updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Louis van Gaal was officially unveiled as Manchester United manager on Thursday.
Louis van Gaal was officially unveiled as Manchester United manager on Thursday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dutchman Louis van Gaal is officially unveiled as Manchester United manager
  • After finishing seventh in England, van Gaal says United not the biggest club
  • He bypassed a holiday after the World Cup and is getting to work at Old Trafford
  • In bad news for van Gaal, Michael Carrick is out after suffering an ankle injury

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Manchester United may have 659 million "followers" -- according to a survey conducted two years ago -- but it's not the biggest club in the world.

That's according to the Red Devils' new manager, Louis van Gaal, who was officially unveiled Thursday only days after guiding the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup in Brazil.

Van Gaal's statement pulled no punches, which is in keeping with the 62-year-old's reputation as being a no-nonsense disciplinarian.

His task is to reverse the fortunes of United, which last season under David Moyes went from the most dominant side in the English Premier League era to one that couldn't even qualify for the often derided Europa League.

"Last year you were seventh so then you are not the biggest club," van Gaal said.

However, United's standing generally wasn't lost on van Gaal, whose resume boasts league titles with three European giants, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax.

In case he needed a reminder of United's stature, United legend Bobby Charlton was there Thursday to greet him.

"It's the biggest club because of how well it's known around the world," van Gaal said. "When I was in China or Brazil, people were talking about United when I was the coach of the Dutch team."

Owen: Van Gaal perfect for United
World Cup: How to Play Under Pressure
Man United owner Malcolm Glazer dies

Van Gaal at the helm could be a boon for his compatriot, striker Robin van Persie, who failed to match his first season at Manchester United in 2012/2013, yet he still inherits a team in transition.

Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic won't be around in the heart of the defense, nor will marauding left-back Patrice Evra.

But unlike last season's summer transfer window, United at least managed to make two major signings early, landing the coveted 19-year-old Luke Shaw -- he'll replace Evra -- from Southampton and long-term creative midfield target Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao.

Van Gaal wasn't about to forecast United's league position this season.

United finished a staggering 22 points behind champion and city rival Manchester City.

"I will do my utmost best," said van Gaal. "That's what I can give. I cannot give predictions because you never know. It's the biggest club of the world.

"Within two days I know already how important Manchester United is.

"I have to work, I have to prepare a team, I have to adapt to this big club. When you see my career you can see what I have won. That's all I can say.

"The future shall show if I can do that again."

His assistant coaches Albert Stuivenberg and Marcel Bout have already been working with the players in advance of his arrival after the World Cup.

They took the first training session of Thursday along with club legend Ryan Giggs, who was in temporary charge after Moyes' dismissal at the back end of last season.

The retention of Giggs and van Gaal's stated intention Thursday that he would find roles for other former players on the United staff like Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville shows he will not be totally breaking from the past.

But Van Gaal has already suffered an injury blow, as midfielder Michael Carrick sustained an ankle injury in training and will be sidelined for up to 12 weeks.

Read: Moyes fired

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
updated 2:58 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
updated 6:12 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
updated 12:56 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
updated 2:28 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT