After weeks of speculation, Manchester United have confirmed Louis van Gaal as the club’s new manager on a three-year deal. Currently coaching the Dutch national team, the 62-year-old will officially take over in July following this summer’s FIFA World Cup, with Ryan Giggs announced as his assistant.
“In Louis van Gaal, we have secured the services of one of the outstanding managers in the game today," executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said in a club statement. “He has achieved many things in his career to date and Old Trafford provides him with a fitting stage on which to write new chapters in the Manchester United story.”
Van Gaal was quickly established as the frontrunner for the job after David Moyes was dismissed following less than a season in charge. For weeks it has been seen as a matter of when rather than if he would officially be confirmed. Regarded as a strict disciplinarian with an attack-minded philosophy, Van Gaal came to prominence when his young Ajax side won the Champions League in 1995. He went onto enjoy two spells with Barcelona, sandwiching a disappointing first spell in charge with the Netherlands in which the team failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.
More recently, Van Gaal has taken charge of AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich before leading his country to the 2014 World Cup. Winning at least one league title with each of the clubs he has managed as well as reaching three Champions League finals, his achievements stand in sharp contrast to those of Moyes, whose lack of pedigree at the top level was widely seen as one of the reasons for a disastrous campaign under his charge. After winning the Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at the helm, the team finished a lowly seventh this term.Van Gaal, who was previously linked with the manager’s job at Tottenham, stated that he had long sought to work in the Premier League and was aiming high with his new club.
“It was always a wish for me to work in the Premier League,” he said in the club’s statement. “To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world, makes me very proud. I have managed in games at Old Trafford before and know what an incredible arena Old Trafford is and how passionate and knowledgeable the fans are. This club has big ambitions; I too have big ambitions. Together I'm sure we will make history.”
Much of the speculation of late has centered on what role if any Giggs would continue to have at Manchester United. The club’s most decorated player, Giggs took charge for the club’s final four Premier League games, while also continuing his playing career. Woodward confirmed that Giggs would become Van Gaal’s assistant manager, while in an open letter to fans the 40-year-old announced his retirement from playing after 21 years in the first team.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from professional football and embark upon a new and exciting chapter in my life, as assistant manager of Manchester United," Giggs explained. "I am immensely proud, honored and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times.
“For me, today is a new chapter filled with many emotions -- immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future. United fans I hope will share and echo my belief that the club, the management and owners, are doing everything they can to return this great club to where it belongs, and I hope to be there every step of the way.”
Van Gaal’s staff will also comprise of assistant coach Marcel Bout, as well as current Netherlands goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek.