• Premier League

Van Gaal: Fergie doesn't faze me

ESPN staff
May 20, 2014
ESPN FC: New man at Manchester United

Louis van Gaal will discuss Manchester United's future with Sir Alex Ferguson and has pledged to lift the club back to where the Scot left them.

The new manager is friendly with the Old Trafford director and has made a sure-footed start to his regime by effectively paying tribute to the club's most successful boss and claiming they are similar characters.

"I'll probably go and get a drink with him [Ferguson]," Van Gaal told Dutch TV show RTL Late Night. "We have done quite often in the past. We like each other.

"In fact, I would have followed him 10 years ago when he wanted to quit. Where he eventually came back [Ferguson reversed his initial retirement plan].

Giggs follows in Mourinho's footsteps

  • Ryan Giggs will have a special learning experience as Louis van Gaal's assistant, writes Andy Mitten, and he will not be the Dutchman's first apprentice.
  • Click here to continue reading

"I don't mind if he goes to games. I put more pressure on myself than others ever could with me do. So I do not expect any problem with Ferguson."

Ferguson's presence at United was thought by some to be a hindrance to David Moyes during his failed spell in charge of the club. The Scot had a big say in the appointment of his successor and was a regular at United games, although Moyes insisted it was useful to be able to tap into Ferguson's experience.

Van Gaal, who has appointed Ryan Giggs as his No.2, is confident the presence of such a key figure in the club's history will have no negative impact on him and has the advantage of already being a successful manager at the top level in a way Moyes was not.

The Dutchman will officially take charge at United at the end of the World Cup when his duties as Netherlands coach are over.

The club are already pressing ahead with transfer targets and are expected to spend in the region of £150 million this summer on players such as Southampton's Luke Shaw.

United won't retire Giggs shirt

  • Manchester United will not retire their No.11 shirt following Ryan Giggs' decision to hang up his boots.
  • Giggs, who made a record 963 appearances for the club, hung up his boots to concentrate on his new role as Louis van Gaal's assistant manager, but the club will still reallocate the former midfielder's jersey number next season.
  • While retiring shirt numbers is a common practice in football, United will not follow the tradition. They passed on their number seven shirt, worn by club greats such as Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, and will do the same with the No.11 shirt.
  • Giggs' retirement means the club has four key shirt numbers up for grabs next season; No.11, No.7, No.9 and No.5, following their decision not to offer Rio Ferdinand a new contract this summer.

Others linked with Old Trafford moves include Toni Kroos, Arjen Robben and Cesc Fabregas but Van Gaal says his style will be to combine youth and experience and that is why United sought him out soon after sacking Moyes last month.

"The aim is to bring them [United] back to the No.1 position as soon as possible, because that's where they were under Sir Alex Ferguson," the 62-year-old said. "There can only be one champion, but the intention is that this will happen with stars and youth players. Therefore, Manchester United ended up with me.

"It is a very difficult task, but a fantastic challenge. Manchester is the biggest club in the world. In marketing, but also in terms of budgets. Such a club must have high end ambition."

Van Gaal will have to compete with one of his former Barcelona assistants, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, to fulfill his ambitions at United and revealed the Portuguese had already been in touch.

"Mourinho congratulated me," he said. "He was the first one I texted and he was the first one to text me back. He said he was jealous of my list of clubs. I didn't call Manchester United, I didn't call Bayern Munich, they've always called me. And I'm proud of that."

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