Van Gaal won’t lower his sights


Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Louis van Gaal wants his Manchester United team to rule the world.

Van Gaal’s start to life as United manager may not have gone completely to plan, but his side are third in the Barclays Premier League thanks to a 10-match unbeaten run.

Although some performances under Van Gaal have been far from spectacular, the 63-year-old has gone a long way to restoring the sense of grandeur about the 20-time English champions that was lacking during the failed reign of David Moyes.

Having won titles in Spain, Holland and Germany, Van Gaal sets lofty ambitions for himself and he has made it clear he wants to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford soon.

Van Gaal spent £155million on new players last summer to help him achieve his aims and the club flexed their muscles again this week by beating a host of rivals to the signing of Victor Valdes as back-up to David de Gea.

“My ambition is that I have the best players who can collaborate with each other to form the best team in the world,” the United manager said.

Van Gaal reeled off his standard answer regarding transfer speculation when asked whether Valdes’ arrival could prompt the exit of first choice David de Gea, whose contract expires in 18 months’ time.

“I cannot discuss that with you,” Van Gaal said at his weekly press conference.

“I discuss that with David and Victor and it shall be like that.”

Van Gaal was more forthcoming when discussing the challenge Valdes faces to dislodge De Gea from the United starting XI.

Having won six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues with Barcelona, Valdes, like Van Gaal, is well-accustomed to success.

The Dutchman therefore expects his new arrival to battle hard for a place in the first team.

“Nobody is happy to be number two and he has to have ambition to beat David De Gea – but it shall be very hard for him,” Van Gaal said.

Valdes left Barcelona last summer following a long association that stretched back to when he was just 10.

The goalkeeper has been training with United since October in a bid to help him recover from a serious knee injury he suffered in March.

Van Gaal, who handed Valdes his Barca debut 13 years ago, is satisfied the player has fully recovered from his injury.

“When we invite Victor Valdes to have his rehabilitation here in Manchester United you do that for him and also for yourself,” Van Gaal said.

“You have the chance to see his rehabilitation but also if his quality is still the same and he has confirmed both.”

It is clear Valdes’ arrival has increased the possibility of back-up goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard leaving United.

Lindegaard, 30, is yet to feature under Van Gaal and was linked with a move away from the club last summer.

“I think (Valdes) fits more in the profile I have for a goalkeeper,” Van Gaal said when asked how Valdes’ signing could affect Lindegaard’s place at United.

Van Gaal again refused to discuss whether long-term targets like Kevin Strootman or Mats Hummels would also be coming to Old Trafford this month.

“I don’t discuss that with you,” Van Gaal said with a smile.

“You can ask it another way but I am always saying the same answer.”

There was a hint from Van Gaal that United are ready to snap up any of their targets if they become available though.

“We were very quick to buy Victor Valdes. Did you notice (that)?” Van Gaal said.

“When we can, we deal quickly.”

Van Gaal also raised a smile when asked about United’s injury situation.

After weeks of problems, the 63-year-old has nearly a full compliment of players to choose from, much to his delight.

“I am very happy,” Van Gaal said.

“We only have one player injured. That’s the first time that has happened in my career at Manchester United.”

Ashley Young is the man in question. He suffered a hamstring injury at Stoke on New Year’s Day and will be out for four to six weeks, according to Van Gaal.

Luke Shaw has recovered from his ankle problem and is therefore fit to face his old club Southampton on Sunday.

Daley Blind is also in line to return from the knee injury which has sidelined him for two months.

Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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