• Pre-Season

Van Gaal: 'Dreadful' US tour could hinder my success

ESPN staff
July 23, 2014
LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan excited to take on Manchester United

Louis van Gaal has hit out at Manchester United's pre-season tour of the United States and the "dreadful" distances they have to cover, saying the club is putting commercial commitments ahead of on-field success.

United begin with a match against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday in a tour that could see United travel more than 13,000 miles in a little more than two weeks if they reach the final of the International Champions Cup - an eight-team tournament which includes some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

In between matches, United's players must appear at sponsor events while they are also duty-bound to conduct interviews for the club's in-house TV channel.

'He just dropped his trousers'

Luca Toni was sold by Louis van Gaal at Bayern Munich © Getty Images
  • Former Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni has warned Manchester United's players that Louis van Gaal will not tolerate egos in the dressing room.
  • Volatile star Toni, now at Verona in Serie A, fell out with Van Gaal when the pair were at Bayern together and revealed just how far the Dutch manager will go to show who is in charge.
  • "I remember how he once tried to make it clear that he wasn't afraid to withdraw the so-called big names," Toni told the Daily Mail. "He just dropped his trousers to show us that he had the balls to do so."

And it all seems too much for Van Gaal, who made his annoyance perfectly clear at his first pre-match press conference in the US.

Asked if commercial obligations could impinge on the football at United, he said: 'More or less. We have to prepare the season and when you have commercial activities and dreadful distances, having to fly a lot and the jet lag, it is not very positive for a good preparation.

"The tour was already arranged and I shall adapt and United will do everything to apply to my rules, but I have said that already."

The influence at Old Trafford of Van Gaal, who has already instigated changes at the club's training ground, has grown quickly in a matter of days since his arrival. The club's executive vice chairman, Ed Woodward, has made clear that he will take his new manager's feeling on board and the club will plan next summer's pre-season tour more to his liking.

He has also promised the Dutchman that there are the funds available to break records in the transfer market, but insisted the commercial activity "doesn't disrupt the football club".

Woodward has already welcomed Van Gaal's direct approach and claims the Dutchman has restored an "aura" at United. "There's a real positive energy and buzz around the place," he said.

"We haven't set targets or anything, but I'm expecting Louis to do well. He's impressed everyone around the club since he started - owners, players, coaching staff and all the backroom staff.

"I feel a lot more positivity in terms of this coming season. Part of that is simply because of what Louis did at the World Cup. It's given us a bit of an aura around him.

"He was one of the managers at the World Cup who was pro-active - he did more things in games that gave him a bigger profile."

Van Gaal has only been in place for a week, but this is already his second comment regarding United's commercial activities.

"Within two days I knew already how important Manchester United is, but also how important the sponsors are and I have to work and prepare a team and I have to adapt to this big club. It will not be easy."

Keen to maximise profits and broaden their fan-base, United have been on long-haul tours for the last 10 years, including last summer when they clocked 23,000 miles travelling between Australia, Thailand, China and Japan.

And Van Gaal has made it clear he will not accept such a draining tour next year.

Van Gaal can 'spend significant amounts'

  • Louis van Gaal will be allowed to break transfer records when bringing in new signings at Manchester United, according to the club's executive vice chairman Ed Woodward.
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"Manchester United shall do everything to adapt to my rules for good preparation," he said.

When asked if he would like a shorter tour next year with less travelling, Van Gaal said: "Yeah, I hope that. They have already said that to me. And I am very confident that it shall be."

It is not all doom and gloom for the new manager, though, who has been pleased with the response of his squad.

"I have to say that it has been fantastic," said the 62-year-old, who started his job last Wednesday after taking Holland to the last four of the World Cup.

"Maybe you think every coach who is new should say that but I mean it.

"The players are anxious to follow the instructions of my assistants. The focus I have seen in the training sessions, it is top level but we have to see if the performance [in games] is top level.

"But I am very happy with the labour that my players do in the days I have been with them."

A crowd of more than 70,000 is expected at the Rose Bowl for the friendly, which kicks off at 8.06pm (4.06am UK time).

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