Van Gaal has no fear of Fergie’s shadow

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Manchester United's new coach Louis van Gaal insisted that he has "no fear" of living in the shadow of Alex Ferguson. Photo: Charlie Crowhurst

The Hague - Manchester United's new coach Louis van Gaal insisted Tuesday that he has "no fear" of living in the shadow of emblematic former manager Alex Ferguson.

Van Gaal, 62, will take over as the new manager of the English Premier League giants after the Dutch campaign at the World Cup with former player Ryan Giggs as his assistant.

"Pressure I put on myself. That Alex Ferguson is looking over my shoulder I really don't think it's the biggest problem," van Gaal was quoted as saying by Dutch magazine Voetbal International.

Ferguson managed United for 27 years until 2013, winning 13 Premier League and two Champions League titles, and is now a member of the board of directors.

"I also get on very well with him and we'll probably soon have a drink together," said Van Gaal.

"My objective is that Manchester United quickly regain their number one spot. They (club bosses) think that I'm capable of achieving this in the first season, not only with the star players but also with the young ones.

"It's a daunting task but a fantastic challenge."

Van Gaal has signed a three-year contract to succeed David Moyes who was sacked after a disastrous 10 months in charge. United have failed to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Van Gaal's contact with United only goes back a few weeks, since the Moyes sacking, the Dutchman said.

"When Manchester came knocking on my door, I didn't think about it for long: Manchester United is the biggest club in the world in terms of marketing and budget."

But he insisted the appointment would not take his focus off the World Cup in Brazil.

"My work at the head of the Oranje does not suffer from the current situation," he insisted.

But his plans are already well thought out.

"I've already talked a lot with the English bosses. They already know the names of the players I would like to have, but also those who are allowed to leave," he explained.

"I've never dealt with transfers and I'm not going to start now, just to say which players I want to have and what players can go. I don't discuss money."

He added: "It takes time to negotiate with a club, it is a real process. There are things that need to be addressed, such as the team preparation programmes, the players, the youth programme."

Van Gaal added that he was "proud to have been chosen" to spearhead United and had been overwhelmed by the many messages of congratulations, including from Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

"Jose Mourinho was one of the first to text me. He said he was jealous of my list of clubs," said the former Ajax, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach.

Meanwhile, former Dutch midfielder Ronald de Boer warned United's players they are set for a tough time ahead.

"He's very strict," De Boer, who played under Van Gaal for club and country, told BBC Radio 5 live.

"When I was young, I was scared of him and feared him a bit."

"Everyone knows which direction he is aiming for and everyone will follow that," said De Boer, who played under Van Gaal at Ajax and Barcelona.

"When he watches, you give a little more effort in what you are doing."

Derby County manager Steve McClaren, who led Dutch side FC Twente to the league title and was assistant to Ferguson at Old Trafford, agreed van Gaal was a tough taskmaster.

"He is very forthright, he knows what he wants, he knows what he is doing and he is very disciplined," McClaren said.

"You either love him or you hate him in Holland, he is one of those characters, but he is successful, he gets teams winning and he is experienced at that level."

A disciplinarian who does not lack confidence in his own ability, van Gaal has won domestic titles and cups with Ajax, AZ Alkmaar, Barcelona and Bayern Munich as well as guiding Ajax to Champions League glory.

Sapa-AFP


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