For 10 months, Manchester United fans hoped against hope, as the prestigious club suffered a fall from grace under David Moyes. It was a huge turnaround from the days of Sir Alex Ferguson, who became a cult figure in English football during his nearly 27-year stint as the manager of Man-U. The owners and executive board have now drafted the services of the Dutchman Louis Van Gaal as Man-U’s next manager with the twin purposes of uplifting the club’s flagging prestige and boosting its international image. Van Gaal joined as Netherlands coach in July 2012 and he successfully led the national team’s 2014 World Cup qualification campaign, before ensuring a third place for the team in the recently concluded Brazil World Cup. From Brazil, Van Gaal came to Old Trafford for taking the reins as the new Man-U coach on Thursday, before taking the team to the US for participating in the second International Champions Cup, beginning tomorrow.
Louis Van Gaal was appointed as Netherlands’ coach two years ago with the purpose of ensuring that the 2010 World Cup runners-up do not lose in the qualifications for Brazil 2014 World Cup. He came out creditably as Netherlands won nine out ten matches and one match ended in a draw. The overall goal difference was 34-5 and Netherlands qualified with two matches remaining. Later, however, the Dutch national team could not repeat their World Cup qualification performance in international friendlies. The worst moments for Van Gaal came in Euro 2012, where Netherlands lost all three of their Group matches. But coming to Brazil, the Dutch began in marvelous fashion, when they defeated reigning champions Spain 5-1 in their first Group match at Salvador’s Estadio Fonte Nova. Analysts credited the thumping victory to Van Gaal’s counter-attacking tactics that destroyed the Spanish side’s tiki-taka based football possession and opened chances for the Dutch. In another instant of a come-back game in the second Group match, Netherlands defeated Australia 3-2, after trailing 1-2 at half time.
In his first interview after taking over as manager, Van Gaal said that he was aware of the twin responsibilities of restoring the team’s pride as also boosting the Club’s global image; but added that the main project was team building and winning matches. It is expected that Van Gaal could replace Wayne Rooney with Robin Van Persie as Man-U’s captain.
Van Gaal’s appointment as the new Man-U coach was followed on Friday with England left-back Luke Shaw joining the club as the most expensive teenage footballer in history. Crossing over to Manchester United from Southampton, the 18-year old Shaw’s four-year contract is reported to be worth £30 million or 38 million euros. It is a much higher figure than £25.6m, which Man-U paid to Everton for Wayne Rooney in 2004. Earlier, as Van Gaal signed the contract on Thursday, Man-U spent another £ 28.5 million to induct Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera.
Now Van Gaal is already in the US with the new-look Man-U team, which is preparing itself for the second edition of Guinness International Champions Cup being organized in 12 US cities. The inaugural tournament in 2013 was won by Real Madrid, and other than Real Madrid and Man-U, this year’s participant include; Manchester City, AC Milan, AS Roma, Liverpool FC, Inter Milan and Olympiacos. These eight teams will be split into two groups and they play three round-robin league games each with the two group leaders taking on for the trophy on August 4 at Miami. Man-U’s Performance in this star-studded event will be the first test for Van Gaal as the new coach. The US tour will also help Van Gaal to have a closer look at some of the budding youngsters, including Luke Shaw, who joined Man-U last week. When they boarded the flight on Friday, Van Gaal had the company of 4 youths aged 21 in goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, Center-back Michael Keane, forward Jesse Lingard, and striker Will Keane. In addition the coach also had left-back Tyler Blackett and defender Reece James both 20 years of age. While Van Gaal will also have the established stars Wayne Rooney, David De Gea, Javier Hernandez and Juan Mata, he gets the first chance to assess new entrants Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. Man-U’s first match of the US tour will be against Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday, after which they begin their league phase matches with AS Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup.