Van Gaal 'pleased' that former captain Guardiola will embark on Premier League challenge
Published 03/02/2016 | 07:56
Louis van Gaal declared he was "very pleased" to hear Pep Guardiola had been appointed Manchester City manager.
After months of speculation, City announced on Monday that Guardiola would replace Manuel Pellegrini as their manager at the end of the season.
Guardiola has earned a reputation as one of the best coaches in the world following successful spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, where he has collected a total of 19 trophies.
Many Manchester United fans had wanted the Catalan to replace Van Gaal as their boss, but the Dutchman is not fazed by the arrival of such a prestigious rival.
In fact, the 64-year-old says he is happy he will soon be reacquainted with the man he coached twice at Barcelona.
"He is my former captain so I am very pleased to see him," the United manager said.
"And I can speak Spanish so it is convenient for him."
The calls for Van Gaal to leave intensified two weeks ago when United slumped to a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton.
United supporters heckled the former Ajax manager as he walked down the touchline following the reverse, but on Tuesday it was a different story.
United fans clapped their manager off after watching his team romp to an easy 3-0 win over Stoke.
Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial found the net in a convincing victory that kept the Red Devils in fifth position, five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
Afterwards, Van Gaal hailed his deadly forwards.
"The players have made a great performance," he said.
"They performed well not only defensively but now also attackingly because we have created a lot of chances and we have made fantastic finishing of team goals.
"That is what I like to see. I am pleased. The finishing was also very good."
The second goal was the pick of the lot - a curling effort from Martial on the edge of the box.
Eyebrows were raised when United paid an initial fee of £36million for the French forward last September and Van Gaal admits the 20-year-old is exceeding expectations.
"He was 19 (when he signed) and now he is 20 so that is surprising when you come from the French league to the Premier League and you can do this," said Van Gaal, whose assistant Ryan Giggs was absent from the bench because of a family illness.
The winger's former United team-mate Mark Hughes could only watch on in despair as his Stoke team failed to repeat their heroics against Van Gaal's side on Boxing Day.
Hughes' evening was not helped by an injury to Phillip Wollscheid, who hobbled off in the first half and was replaced by Phil Bardsley, who had a torrid night trying to contain Martial.
Hughes is already without Ryan Shawcross for at least the next fortnight due to injury so he hopes Wollscheid is not out for a long time.
"He felt his calf in the warm-up and we tried to loosen it off but it was obvious he was struggling," Hughes said of the German centre-back.
"We will have to check him. We are a bit threadbare in defensive areas so we have to hope we get some good news."