'United are the biggest' - Van Gaal

New Reds manager is confident of making side a force again

New Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal attends a news conference at the club's Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, northern England, July 17, 2014. Picture: Reuters/Nigel Roddis.

Charlie Rusholme

LOUIS VAN GAAL labelled Manchester United the biggest club in the world as he addressed the media for the first time since taking over at Old Trafford.

The former Bayern Munich, Ajax and Barcelona boss, who was announced as David Moyes' successor in May, took his first training session on Thursday morning before addressing the size of the challenge ahead of him at United.

"I will do my best and that's what I can give. I cannot give predictions because you never know. It's the biggest club of the world, which I know already after two days," the 62-year-old, who has won league titles with every club he has managed, told a press conference.

"I have to adapt to this club. It shall not be easy, but I will do my utmost best. When you see my career, you can see what I have won and that is what I can say. The future shall show if I can do that again."

He added: "It's a great challenge because of the expectation. I worked for Barcelona, in my opinion number one in Spain; I have coached Ajax, number one in the Netherlands; I have coached Bayern Munich, number one in Germany, and now Man United, who are number one in England and I hope I shall fulfil expectations."


Van Gaal's work with Holland at the World Cup - guiding them to third place - delayed his introduction at Old Trafford.

He arrived at the club's Carrington training ground for a low-key first day on Wednesday before being unveiled to the press on Thursday.

When asked about not taking a holiday following the World Cup, Van Gaal said he could not think about having a vacation with such a huge challenge hanging over him.

"I could not let them go. When you are asked by the biggest club in the world, it's a big chance for me," he said.

"When there is a challenge like this, I never let it go."

At the start of the press conference he addressed how much of an honour it was to have United hero Sir Bobby Charlton introducing him to the club during this period.

"I want to thank Sir Bobby Charlton because it's a great honour to come in this stadium and to be guided by him. My first steps - okay my first steps here were with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, I know that - but as the coach of Manchester United these were my first steps. I was very proud to do that with Sir Bobby Charlton."

The 62-year-old is immediately tasked with avoiding a repeat of last season's poor showing under predecessor Moyes, who was enjoying a quiet day at the Open in Hoylake while Van Gaal was paraded in front of the media. United were only able to finish seventh in the Premier League last term, meaning even qualifying for the Champions League would represent a step back in the right direction.

Van Gaal, though, is aiming higher and said: "For me, the challenge is always first, not fourth.

"First I have to see how players perform my philosophy and how quickly they can pick it up, then I can answer.

"I haven't worked with most of them so we have to wait and see. It's important that there is a click between the players and the manager."

Drawing on his experience at the summer's World Cup, though, he insisted: "You cannot predict.

"Nobody predicted the Dutch team would have come so far, nobody predicted that Germany would beat Brazil in their home, 1-7, and that we would beat them 0-3. "You know this, but you ask."

Though he revealed he had been consulted on the signings of Southampton full-back Luke Shaw and Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera this summer, Van Gaal will not rush into making further additions.

"My method is always the same," he said.

"I will look at the players present now, I know how they play but I want to see in the first three or four weeks what they can do, then maybe buy other players.

"Shaw and Herrera were already on the (club's) list, I gave my approval because I like them."

There is likely to be an ongoing role for several of the club's fabled 'Class of '92', with Van Gaal revealing: "Nicky Butt is already assisting us.

"Paul Scholes, we shall find a role for him, and also for Phil Neville I believe. That is what we want but we have to speak about that with them personally, that's why we have to wait and see."

The most pre-eminent figure in United's recent history, of course, is long-serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Van Gaal, who insists he is more "democratic" than his fearsome reputation would have people believe, hopes to emulate the successful Scot's approach.

"'Autocratic' and 'strong personality' are not the same," he said. "Sir Alex won a lot of titles with Manchester United and I hope I can do that - I can start with that philosophy.

"(Ferguson) called me to congratulate me and we spoke about (going for) a cup of coffee or to eat together.

"We know each other very well and I shall drink coffee and drink wine with him - maybe the best wine I can imagine."