Manchester United fans are breathing a sigh of relief since the confirmation on Monday that Louis van Gaal is the new boss at Old Trafford.
They are even more excited that he declared his intention to regain the Premier League title in his first season in charge.
It’s a massive challenge but history shows that van Gaal did just that at Barcelona and Bayern Munich when he won the league in his first season.
The Dutchman won the 1997-98 La Liga title at Barcelona before securing the 2009-10 Bundesliga with Bayern Munich. Only three managers have won the Premiership at their first attempt – Chelsea duo Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti and Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini.
Fellow Dutchman Robin van Persie is expected to become club captain now that Nemanja Vidic is leaving United and Rio Ferdinand has not been offered a new contract, so van Gaal will have to look for two center-backs.
“I would be proud if it all works right away,” said van Gaal who takes over from caretaker manager Ryan Giggs. He said on Dutch TV his immediate objectives were to return United to the “No. 1 spot” as soon as possible and that fans “will think they are champions of England again within a year.”
This is music to the ears of Mark Scotland, former minister of sports, president of Bodden Town Football Club and a lifelong United fan.
“I thought the sacking of David Moyes was too long in coming,” he said. “He just couldn’t pick a team. Van Gaal is a good appointment although the way coaching and managing is going, I thought it was worth giving Giggs a longer chance to prove himself because he had the trust and confidence of the players having been a great one himself.”
Scotland added that van Gaal is inheriting an excellent squad and although he will have to find two new center-backs, with Juan Mata settling in well and new signings expected in this summer, he expects a successful campaign next season.
Van Gaal has signed a three-year contract with United. He has won seven league titles with four clubs – Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich – and adding to that haul in his debut season will be a major achievement.
United’s erratic form ended with a seventh place league finish and failing to qualify for Europe for the first time in 25 years, leading to the sacking of lamentable Moyes.
Van Gaal takes charge at Old Trafford after leading the Netherlands in next month’s World Cup in Brazil. United fans are buzzing that many big names are expected to join the Reds and van Gaal said he is already in deep discussion over new signings.