Revealed: Van Gaal knew of Manchester United possibility in February

The Dutchman was hand-picked by the Glazers to succeed David Moyes at Old Trafford and was first aware of the possibility three months ago, well before the Scot’s sacking

By Greg Stobart

Louis van Gaal was aware of the possibility of becoming Manchester United’s new manager as early as February.

United confirmed on Monday that the Netherlands coach will take over at Old Trafford after the World Cup on a three-year contract.

Sources have told Goal that the 62-year-old was sounded out about the United job in February and advised to wait until the end of the season before making a decision on his future.

At the time, he had already held three meetings with Tottenham representatives and the Londoners were keen to appoint him as their next manager to replace Tim Sherwood at the end of the season but Van Gaal decided to play the waiting game in the hope that the United job became available – a decision that paid dividends following the sacking of David Moyes from the Old Trafford hotseat in April.

And the news shows just how long United executives had been mindful of Moyes’s possible departure, with the Scot sacked just nine months after replacing Sir Alex Ferguson.

United moved swiftly to formally initiate contact with Van Gaal following Moyes’s dismissal and arranged talks to tie up the deal.

His availability this summer, with no compensation to be paid, always made the Dutchman favourite over other managers under consideration including Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, who all ruled themselves out of contention.

Van Gaal is believed to have been a hand-picked appointment from the Glazer family, United’s owners, who wanted a proven winner after a disastrous season under Moyes in which the club finished seventh in the table with their lowest ever Premier League points total.

Some senior figures at the club were concerned by Van Gaal’s abrasive style but the Glazers were convinced that a firm hand was needed to steady the ship, particularly as they plan to spend around £150 million on a huge summer overhaul of the squad.

Van Gaal was also the subject of interest from abroad, most notably in Russia, but had made no secret of his desire to manage in the Premier League, having previously won titles in Holland, Germany and Spain.

As he hesitated over the Spurs job, the Londoners became increasingly convinced that he was set for United. He eventually told Tottenham chiefs that he was no longer interested in taking over at White Hart Lane, paving the way for his move to Old Trafford.

Van Gaal agreed to take over from Moyes almost two weeks ago after a meeting with a United delegation in his villa in the Algarve.

The delay in confirming Van Gaal’s appointment is believed to have been partly due to extended negotiations over the makeup of the backroom team who will work under the former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax coach but the wait was finally ended on Monday, alongside confirmation that Ryan Giggs will remain at the club in the role of assistant manager.

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