It's a fantastic challenge to coach United, says Van Gaal
Louis van Gaal has spoken of the prospect of succeeding David Moyes at Manchester United by declaring he is determined to take on the "fantastic challenge" of managing "the biggest club in the world."
Van Gaal, the Holland coach who is expected to be announced as United's manager next week, linked up with the Dutch domestic-based players at a training camp in Hoenderloo yesterday.
The 62-year-old has finished in front of Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp as the preferred candidate of the United board and Van Gaal admitted that he was now waiting for the club to confirm his appointment.
"I would love the job," Van Gaal said. "I hope that I shall be the one. It's the biggest club in the world and it's a fantastic challenge. You (the media) are thinking I'm the man, but the most important thing is whether Manchester United are thinking that."
Van Gaal has also been linked with Tottenham Hotspur and, despite saying he wants to manage United, claimed that he had other offers to consider. "There are more clubs interested. I have more options. It is a process we're in and everybody has to wait patiently on my choice and that of the clubs."
It is understood, however, that Van Gaal will finalise his United coaching staff and decide on the future of the club's out-of-contract players before being publicly confirmed as the club's new manager next week.
Despite the start of World Cup preparations with Holland yesterday, Manchester United and Louis Van Gaal are keen to tie up all loose ends on and off the pitch before announcing his appointment.
With the Holland assistants Patrick Kluivert and Danny Blind not expected to be part of Van Gaal's back-room team at Old Trafford, negotiations are continuing over the make-up of his staff at United, with Ryan Giggs, the interim manager, likely to be offered a role by the Dutchman.
Decisions must also be made over the futures of Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, both of whom are out of contract next month, with Van Gaal understood to be involved in the decision-making process about the two defenders.
With Moyes taking more than a month to finalise his coaching staff last summer – dispensing with the services of first-team coach René Meulensteen six weeks after being announced as manager – United are determined to avoid a protracted series of appointments and announcements following confirmation of Van Gaal's appointment.
The former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach is also acutely aware of the necessity to focus solely on Holland's World Cup plans, with their Group B opener against Spain in Salvador just five weeks away.
With a desire within United to allow Giggs to focus on the final game of the season at Southampton on Sunday without distractions, it is anticipated that Van Gaal will be announced as manager by the middle of next week.
Robin van Persie, Van Gaal's captain with Holland, has insisted that United will return to prominence next season. United are on course to finish seventh, which will equal the worst defence of a title since Blackburn in 1995-96, but Van Persie is confident that next season will be different.
"This season has been a bit up and down," Van Persie said. "I wasn't fully fit and that's where everything starts for me. You need to get a full season in.
"I think I missed half the season and I am gutted about that. For next year, I just want to stay fit, do well and compete again. I'm sure we will compete again next year. We'll be back, trust me, we will be back."
Meanwhile, Phil Neville, the United first-team coach whose future is uncertain under Van Gaal, claimed that the post-match lap of honour following the 3-1 victory against Hull City on Tuesday was the "emptiest" he has felt in football.
"I've got to say that walking around the pitch, after the last home game of the season against Hull City, was probably the emptiest I've ever felt on a football field," Neville said.
"I took the job fully expecting to be walking around the last home game of the season either challenging for a Premier League title or parading a league title because that's what this club demands. We've got to make sure next season we are doing that.
"I don't know what's around the corner for me in terms of my own personal job. That's up to other people, but the season as a whole has just not been good enough for Manchester United. We've got to make sure next season, whoever is in charge and whoever is coaching, that we get back challenging for league titles.
"Take the results aside and what's happened, it's been an incredible learning experience for me at a club that I love and I want to be here for the rest of my life, being involved with Man United. So that's my hope." (© Daily Telegraph, London)