Just over two months ago, on 19th May, it was announced that Louis van Gaal was to be the new Manchester United manager. United fans have therefore had a long wait to hear him speak about his new role. The World Cup has finished, his duties as Holland coach are complete and yesterday (16th July) he arrived at Carrington to take charge of pre-season preparations.
Pre-season work started on Monday 7th July with Ryan Giggs overseeing training sessions, assisted by two of van Gaal’s appointees, Albert Stuivenberg and Marcel Bout. The sessions were planned by van Gaal for Giggs to deliver. Of course the full squad isn’t complete yet – some players stayed longer in Brazil than others, and new signings are yet to be confirmed. We are all waiting to see what the final composition of the new season’s squad will be.
Van Gaal has a month to work with his squad before the season’s opener against Swansea on 17th August and that month is punctuated by a two week trip to the United States. They are expected to play a minimum of five games in eleven days on tour, and possibly one further game a couple of days later. Then it’s back to Carrington to prepare for another fixture, a friendly at Old Trafford against Valencia on the 12th August, only three days before the first game of the season. The Valencia game has been arranged at van Gaal’s request and will be a first opportunity for the new manager, staff and new players to say hello to the fans in person and experience Old Trafford as their home.
Today, at his first press conference, van Gaal was formally introduced as United manager, one day ahead of the team’s trip to the United States which starts on Friday 18th July. You can watch the press conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eU_tmP-wow
With such a whistle-stop schedule, much of the pre-season work including his first hand assessment of the squad he has inherited will have to be done on the road. One player he won’t be able to assess is Michael Carrick who, van Gaal revealed, had an operation earlier this week after chipping a bone in his ankle. It is understood he will be out of action for between ten and twelve weeks.
Van Gaal indicated that he would take time to assess his squad and then decide where he feels the need to strengthen. He will also take his time to select a captain. Despite the tight schedule, the overriding sense is that here is a manager supremely confident in his own abilities and judgements.