Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said he has no regrets about taking on the job instead of the “easier” task that awaited him at Tottenham Hotspur. The Dutchman admitted the Spurs were prepared to match what he is being paid at Old Trafford but he considered the Old Trafford post to be the most prestigious in the world.
Having already spent $247 million on injecting new blood to a side that finished outside the European places last season, van Gaal also dismissed claims he was not ready for the size of the task facing him after reports he was angry at the state of the squad he inherited. He added that he was looking forward to turning around the club’s fortunes and restoring United to the top tier of English and world football.
“I could have opted for an easier job,” van Gaal said. “If I had gone to Tottenham, the job would not have been as enormous as here at United.” Van Gaal was approached by Spurs at the end of last season and he was close to accepting the role, until the United job came up.
United, the biggest spenders in the transfer window, welcome Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers to Old Trafford on September 14, looking for their first competitive win under van Gaal. A slow start involving a home defeat to Swansea City on the opening day of the season followed by draws against Sunderland and Burnley have left many thinking United could spend a number of years in the doldrums.
However, with big-money signings like Ángel Di María from Real Madrid and Radamel Falcao, on loan from Monaco, United have sent out a real statement of intent to their closest rivals. Indeed, van Gaal also thanked the Glazer family for the financial support in the transfer market, which saw United spend well above any of the other clubs.
Although some critics believe van Gaal will live to regret spending more time and effort bolstering his attack when the midfield and defense needed strengthening first, the addition of Daley Blind, a versatile player who can fit in anywhere along the back four and in midfield, will give him new options. Furthermore, van Gaal has been forced to play without almost all the players he signed in the summer. Midfielder Ander Herrera was injured on his Premier League debut, while defenders Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo have yet to start due to injury and no work permit, respectively. Falcao is expected to join the starting line up against QPR.
United’s relatively easy start, on paper, compared to the baptism of fire that welcomed van Gaal’s predecessor, David Moyes, last season should have helped the Red Devils accrue more points than the two they currently have. Regrettable missed chances and defensive lapses against Swansea, Sunderland and Burnley have seen United ridiculed by fans and the media alike. QPR and their former United defender Rio Ferdinand should not pose too much of a threat to United, but it is only a matter of time before they have to ready themselves for the clashes with the big sides.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd
Photo courtesy of ING Nederland – license