Van Gaal: I’m no dictator

Louis van Gaal might have a reputation as a tough taskmaster but he will run Manchester United democratically after being unveiled as manager at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman has earned a fearsome reputation during a coaching career which has included spells at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

United supporters might have hoped for more of the same from Van Gaal after the Red Devils squad so drastically under-performed under his predecessor David Moyes.

But in his first media conference he claimed different aspects of his personality have made him successful, rather than the one that is so frequently focused on.

“I am a democratic, empathetic human being,” Van Gaal said. “Of course I have a strong personality but the other characteristics are more important. And that’s the key of my personality.

“My reputation for being autocratic? It’s unfair and because of the media. They want to show that part of the personality. Part of the personality is like this. But when you repeat that,always everyone thinks it is like that.

“From 39 I was coach of Ajax and my personality has not been changed. But autocratic or strong personality is not the same word — a lot of people are thinking it’s the same word.

“I have a strong philosophy. Every year I have trained it is confirming that philosophy. Alex Ferguson has a strong philosophy and he won a lot of titles with Manchester United.”

Van Gaal, who guided the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup, would not give an exact prediction on where he expected United to finish in the 2014-15 campaign following a disappointing seventh place last season.

The 62-year-old acknowledged, though, there is significant weight of expectation at the club, and also pointed at balancing the football and commercial aspects of the job as his greatest challenge.

United will shortly undertake a pre-season tour of the United States and without European football may be tempted to play exhibition friendly matches abroad to generate extra revenue. “For me, the challenge is always first and not fourth,” Van Gaal said. “But when you have to analyse after one season, it depends on click between the players and the manager.

“I will do my utmost. That’s what I can give. I cannot give predictions because you never know. It’s the biggest club in the world. Within two days I know how important Manchester United is.

“Can I fulfil their expectation? I think I can do. But because of the greatness of this club it’s also much more difficult than another club.

“Also this club is also guided in the commercial way and we have to fulfil that also. That is now always possible, to fulfil the commercial expectations or the football expectations. That is my biggest challenge.

“There is a lot of expectation, but also a great challenge because of that and therefore I have chosen for this club.

“I worked for Barcelona, the number one team in Spain in my opinion. I have coached Ajax, number one in the Netherlands. And I have coached Bayern Munich, the number one in Germany. And now I am with Manchester United who are the number one in England. I hope I shall fulfil the expectation, which shall be difficult.”

Van Gaal insisted he would make a full assessment of the United squad before he pursued transfer targets.

“I want to look at the players now, at the present players,” Van Gaal explained.

“Of course, I know the players and how they play. But I don’t know how the players have trained and coached. Firstly I want to see, over the first two, three, four weeks, what they can do.

“Then maybe then I shall I buy other players. The players that we have bought now — Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera — were already on the list so I gave my approval because I like them. But first I want to see the players performing my philosophy.”

Van Gaal also, somewhat bizarrely, claimed he will attempt to make some changes at United’s €76m training ground in Carrington because it is too windy.

“The facility needs a little more intimacy,” he added. “I have asked already because now it’s an open field but there is always wind.

“And wind is not always the friend of the players. It’s not always the friend of the ball and so we have to do something about that. But the facilities are fantastic.”


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