Chosen One MK II
May 20th, 2014
11:43 AM ET

Why 'Only One' Louis van Gaal is perfect for Manchester United

It’s his way. Or no way.

Simply put, Louis van Gaal doesn't suffer fools gladly - and as Manchester United’s star-studded squad is about to find out, no-one’s immune!

The Dutchman’s appointment as manager on Monday truly marks the end of the glorious Alex Ferguson era. Never again will we see that kind of longevity or continuity. Ferguson had ruled Britain's biggest club with a rod of iron from 1986 to 2013, winning everything in sight including 13 English Premier League titles and two European Champions League crowns.

And yet success didn't come instantly. It took the former Aberdeen boss just under four years to win his first piece of silverware - the 1990 English FA Cup, when United needed a replay in the final to beat Crystal Palace. Then it was a further three years before a first league title came along, as the start of the Premier League era heralded the start of two decades of success.

Football's a very different game now, though. It demands instant success - especially when you're the biggest brand there is.

David Moyes got just nine months. He'd been Fergie's hand-picked choice, so in that sense the great Scot's dynasty lived on, but with the former Everton manager now gone United fans finally have closure. It's estimated the ill-fated Moyes reign cost the club around $85 million, with the vast majority of that due to failure to qualify for next season's highly lucrative Champions League.

With the passing of the Ferguson era I feel there has to now be this clean break, given that the Moyes experiment went so badly wrong.

And that also extends down to those of the much-vaunted "Class of '92" still involved with the club - though with one exception: Ryan Giggs.

Van Gaal is too smart to clear the decks completely. And he won't. It's vital he keeps United's most decorated player around at close quarters. Giggs will be his assistant and be groomed to take over when he steps down. As former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel so aptly put it, the current Netherlands manager needs Giggs to become his "cultural assistant."

For the 62-year-old Van Gaal, though, the United job is the ultimate way to finish his career. One last dream opportunity in the English Premier League has come his way and he’ll be determined to go out in style before his own retirement.

He will be desperate to maintain that fantastic streak of winning a league title with every club he’s ever coached: AZ Alkmaar, Ajax, Barcelona (where he won two titles in three seasons) and Bayern Munich. A championship success with United would mean one in four different countries.

Van Gaal's lone Champions League success came back in 1995 with his young, talented Ajax side and I'm quite sure he'll feel a coach of his standing should have won it more often. Indeed, his only other European triumph came in the UEFA Cup three years earlier.

That Champions League final nearly two decades ago showed Van Gaal is never shy to give youth a chance. Provided they're good enough of course! On that famous night in Vienna a batch of homegrown Dutch talent helped overpower mighty Milan.

A teenage Patrick Kluivert was the match-winner on that occasion and, as Henry Winter of Britain's Daily Telegraph told me: "Van Gaal has such self- belief he happily bloods new players. That '95 Ajax team was full of them, marching to his beat and obeying his commands."

Winter also cites a Ferguson-style attention to detail when it comes to dealing with his young proteges, remembering not just their birthdays but also those of their parents and girlfriends too.

At Barcelona, Van Gaal had a huge impact on the likes of Xavi and Carlos Puyol, giving the pair their debuts, and he promoted their fellow future World Cup winner Andres Iniesta to the first team while the midfielder was still a teen.

It's the Van Gaal philosophy, and it extended to his time at Bayern Munich later in his career. Just ask Thomas Muller, who at the age of 20 was joint top goalscorer at the 2010 World Cup, or David Alaba - a senior Austria international since the age of 17.

On a personal note, I can't wait for his press conferences. In terms of entertainment alone he's sure to give even Jose Mourinho a run for his money, and his comments last week about giving British reporters a few mumbled words that they turned into 60 full pages was vintage LVG.

Germany-based football writer Mark Lovell has witnessed him first-hand in full flow facing the world's media during his 2009-11 Bayern reign. Lovell says the Dutch and the German press pack didn't always see eye to eye with him, but Van Gaal was always "honest and forthright - unusually so in the modern game" when it came to assessing team performances.

In my book, the uber-confident Dutchman is a perfect fit for United the club, business and brand.

After a season of woeful under-achievement at Old Trafford, I have no doubt "King Louis" will bring his version of Total Football back to the 20-time champions of England.

But his loyal subjects better brace themselves, because the new United manager is not so much the Chosen One (as Moyes was dubbed).

As far as he's concerned, at least, he's the Only One!

What do you think? Will Van Gaal restore United's fortunes? Continue the conversation on Twitter with Patrick, or have your say in the comments bow below.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Graham

    Correction, Ferguson didn't win everything insight. He failed to win the Europe League (Uefa Cup), the last time United were in the competition was 2012 after coming 3rd in their Champions League group.

    May 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • Jimmy

      @Graham, that is the dumbest comment ever.. Ferguson didn't win in the English Championship either...

      July 2, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Reply
    • carlos

      yawn ...

      July 22, 2014 at 7:06 am | Reply
  2. Name*andrew

    Huge season ahead for United. Van Gaal will change things up but will it work out with Giggs?

    May 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  3. Tom

    With the kind of desperation Van Gaal has shown toward the ManU job, don't be surprised to see the biggest failure my editor. He's going to fail. The EPL is really tough.

    May 20, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  4. Sally

    Top 3 at worst now for Utd!

    May 21, 2014 at 12:48 am | Reply
  5. Mark Lovell

    Well said Pat. I enjoyed LVG's straight-talking during his tenure at Bayern. Whilst he was winning he enjoyed a honeymoon period in Bavaria. Ultimately, as things turned sour..LVG fell badly out with the heirarchy there, mainly Uli Hoeness.

    It's a sound appointment for MUFC but would not have sanctioned Giggs as his assistant. I would have trust issues here, especially with what has just happened with David Moyes.

    LVG will be lapped up by the English long as results are improved..
    Knives will quickly be out if the Dutch "Party Beast" cannot reverse the MUFC fading fortunes.

    May 21, 2014 at 7:36 am | Reply
  6. Andy Jackson

    Fergie will b a hard act to follow but now it is time to move on!

    May 21, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  7. Ghoya

    Football management in the UK need to Change excessive praise of media for their youngsters kill their talent as they get obsessed with alot media attention. UK lack football identity light now comparing to Italy, Spain,Germany etc. Also I see investment in Young talent is not that much compared to teh countries I have mentioned. These factors will still impact UK football for a foreseeble future unless it change.

    Van Gaal is a Great Coach for United

    May 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  8. Steeples

    Van gaal must sort out Rooney- RVP dynamic asap!

    May 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  9. Alice Onoriode

    l believe Van Gaal is the right person for MANU because he will definitely turn things around and make both the owner and fans to be happy once again.

    May 23, 2014 at 10:47 am | Reply
  10. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    He is no stranger to a podium finish. Louis has laid his hands on silverware. Footballers, fans and rivals know well his leadership qualities and winning mantras.

    May 31, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  11. tim humphrey

    Total football is what everybody craves in English football. United now have a total manager to teach them how to play total football in the best league in the World. Bring it on!

    June 3, 2014 at 9:26 am | Reply
  12. peter mbuya

    Man utd has the right tactician now,performans remains the key to success.Go go LVG!!

    June 7, 2014 at 4:03 am | Reply
  13. nikhil bohra

    a strong headed discplinarian who plays expansive entertaining football is just what United need.
    He will get the discipline back. All the class clowns who let the focus go and ran a muck when the Head master (fergusson) retired better get in shape or get ready to be shipped out.

    June 7, 2014 at 5:09 am | Reply
  14. chief obadolagbonyi of benin kingdom

    LVG is our hope for a better season coming and we are waiting to smile again and forget the dismal season of THE CHASED ONE David Moyes. LVG please do it for us. MANUTD FOR LIFE

    June 7, 2014 at 5:55 am | Reply
  15. Alex

    I think that Louis van Gaal will make a change as new coach, just look @todays game Spain v Holland 1-5 Stil thinking i am in a dream, his 1-5-3-2 setup was heavily criticized in all kinds of media, but van Gaal's magic works once again.
    I hope this winning streak will go on until the end.:-) Orange rules.

    June 13, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  16. john

    If LVG can build up the Man U midfield to control the midfield, attack with confidence and maintain their shape to defend in groups – then Man U will do very well. They have lacked a balanced midfield for a long time.Look at Barcelona, Jueventus and Bayern M over time. They rule the middle of the park. Wingers and forwards are easy to find. Conductors of the orchestra are more rare.

    July 4, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  17. errtu

    Speaking as a Dutchman, I'm very proud of this fantastic coach. I hope he'll have as much an impact on Man U. as well as the entire PL. Adding Man U. to my soccernews app on my phone, just to keep track of how he (and the team) is doing. Good luck!

    July 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Reply

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