Changes to not only the training facilities but also the scenery at Manchester United were apparent in Louis van Gaal’s first press conference at Old Trafford on Thursday.
The Dutchman wants more ‘intimacy’ at the ‘fantastic’ facilities at United’s disposal to benefit his players as they strive to improve on last season’s dismal seventh place.
“It is an open field and there is always wind and wind is not always the friend of the players and the football. So we have to do something about that,” said the 62-year-old.
Van Gaal was also quick to pay tribute to 1968 European Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton, after the Old Trafford stalwart guided United’s first foreign manager around the famous stadium.
“As a trainer and coach of Manchester United, these were my first steps. I was very proud to do that with Sir Bobby Charlton.
“I have the age to see him play so I know what he means for Manchester United, but also for English football and it was a great honour to do it with him.”
Van Gaal’s most interesting exchange with the media who will quiz him week in, week out when the Premier League resumes next month for another season of thrills and spills, was about which hat he needs to wear as United continue to grow as a global brand alongside maintaining traditions as England’s most successful football club.
“I’m now two days here, I’ve met a lot of people and when you see that kind of people loving the club they expect a lot of me.
“Can I fulfill that expectation? I think I can but because of the greatness of this club it is much more difficult than in another club.
“This club is also guided in a commercial way and we have to fulfill that also, but it is not always possible to fulfill both.”
This week United announced a world-record kit deal with Adidas while earlier on Thursday Forbes business magazine adjudged the three-times European champions to be the third most valuable sporting franchise in the world behind only Real Madrid and Barcelona, ahead of all North American sporting teams.
United’s commitment to sponsors has long since been near the top of their list, having won plenty of trophies while amassing a global following through individuals such as George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham.
Their bargaining clout is something Manchester City and other powerhouses of English football yearn for but may never get and with Van Gaal’s arrival, United seem set to sail a more pleasant course in 2014/15 and beyond given the money that will be flooding through their gates.
The feeling, however, is that Van Gaal wants to do his talking on the pitch rather than sit pretty in the stands as the Red Devils secure more sponsorship deals.
“I’ll do my upmost best and that is what I can give. I cannot give predictions because you never know,” said Van Gaal.
“It’s the biggest club of the world, within two days I know already how important Manchester United is but how important also the sponsors are.
“I have to work, I have to prepare a team and I have to adapt to this big club. It shall not be easy but I do my upmost best and when you see my career you can see what I have won. The future shall show if I can do that again.”
Main image courtesy of NTDTV via YouTube, with thanks.