Wed, May 21, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Van Gaal vows to rebuild United with Giggs at side

AFP, LONDON

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal points in a training session on May 9 in Hoenderloo, the Netherlands, 10 days before being named Manchester United boss.

Photo: EPA

Louis van Gaal promised to “make history” and return Manchester United to winning ways after he was named as manager of “the biggest club in the world” on Monday.

One of soccer’s worst-kept secrets finally became public knowledge when the Netherlands manager was named as the new boss of the struggling English giants.

United’s record appearance holder Ryan Giggs will be his assistant after announcing he was ending his playing career.

After the announcement, legendary former United manager Alex Ferguson paid tribute to the Welsh midfielder in a video message on the club Web site, saying: “What a fantastic career — the number of games you have played, the trophies you have won, the help you have given young people and the help you have given me and all the coaching staff.”

Ferguson signed Giggs on his 17th birthday in 1990 and saw him become the most decorated player in the club’s history and one of European soccer’s all-time greats, with 963 appearances for United, 168 goals, 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions Leagues.

Giggs, 40, who took charge for the final four games of the season after David Moyes was sacked last month after a disastrous run of results culminated in the Devils’ failure to make the Champions League, said he was “thrilled to have the chance to serve as assistant manager.”

He will be assisting Van Gaal, 62, who has signed a three-year contract. A disciplinarian who rarely lacks confidence in his 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 — and he was in no doubt he could enjoy more success in what will be his first job in English soccer.

“It was always a wish for me to work in the Premier League,” he said. “To work as a manager for Manchester United — the biggest club in the world — makes me very proud... This club has big ambitions. I too have big ambitions. Together I’m sure we will make history.”

However, his duties with the Netherlands mean Van Gaal will not be able to join United until after the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, which would not be until mid-July if the national squad reach the latter stages of the tournament.

Moyes was Ferguson’s handpicked successor, but the former Everton boss struggled and United finished the season in seventh place and had to watch as city rivals Manchester City took the title.

Van Gaal is tasked with rejuvenating an aging squad and is expected to make major changes in defense after the long-established centerback pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand both announced that they are leaving the club.

United’s US-based owners, the Glazer family, also want Van Gaal to restore the reputation of the club’s youth system as a conveyor belt for first-team talent.

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