Skip to main content

Louis van Gaal takes charge at Manchester United

updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Louis van Gaal was officially unveiled as Manchester United manager on Thursday.
Louis van Gaal was officially unveiled as Manchester United manager on Thursday.
  • Dutchman Louis van Gaal is officially unveiled as Manchester United manager
  • After finishing seventh in England, van Gaal says United not the biggest club
  • He bypassed a holiday after the World Cup and is getting to work at Old Trafford
  • In bad news for van Gaal, Michael Carrick is out after suffering an ankle injury

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Manchester United may have 659 million "followers" -- according to a survey conducted two years ago -- but it's not the biggest club in the world.

That's according to the Red Devils' new manager, Louis van Gaal, who was officially unveiled Thursday only days after guiding the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup in Brazil.

Van Gaal's statement pulled no punches, which is in keeping with the 62-year-old's reputation as being a no-nonsense disciplinarian.

His task is to reverse the fortunes of United, which last season under David Moyes went from the most dominant side in the English Premier League era to one that couldn't even qualify for the often derided Europa League.

"Last year you were seventh so then you are not the biggest club," van Gaal said.

However, United's standing generally wasn't lost on van Gaal, whose resume boasts league titles with three European giants, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax.

In case he needed a reminder of United's stature, United legend Bobby Charlton was there Thursday to greet him.

"It's the biggest club because of how well it's known around the world," van Gaal said. "When I was in China or Brazil, people were talking about United when I was the coach of the Dutch team."

Owen: Van Gaal perfect for United
World Cup: How to Play Under Pressure
Man United owner Malcolm Glazer dies

Van Gaal at the helm could be a boon for his compatriot, striker Robin van Persie, who failed to match his first season at Manchester United in 2012/2013, yet he still inherits a team in transition.

Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic won't be around in the heart of the defense, nor will marauding left-back Patrice Evra.

But unlike last season's summer transfer window, United at least managed to make two major signings early, landing the coveted 19-year-old Luke Shaw -- he'll replace Evra -- from Southampton and long-term creative midfield target Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao.

Van Gaal wasn't about to forecast United's league position this season.

United finished a staggering 22 points behind champion and city rival Manchester City.

"I will do my utmost best," said van Gaal. "That's what I can give. I cannot give predictions because you never know. It's the biggest club of the world.

"Within two days I know already how important Manchester United is.

"I have to work, I have to prepare a team, I have to adapt to this big club. When you see my career you can see what I have won. That's all I can say.

"The future shall show if I can do that again."

His assistant coaches Albert Stuivenberg and Marcel Bout have already been working with the players in advance of his arrival after the World Cup.

They took the first training session of Thursday along with club legend Ryan Giggs, who was in temporary charge after Moyes' dismissal at the back end of last season.

The retention of Giggs and van Gaal's stated intention Thursday that he would find roles for other former players on the United staff like Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville shows he will not be totally breaking from the past.

But Van Gaal has already suffered an injury blow, as midfielder Michael Carrick sustained an ankle injury in training and will be sidelined for up to 12 weeks.

Read: Moyes fired

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.