Van Gaal raring to end on a high

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal especially values Ashley Young's contribution as a team player.
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal especially values Ashley Young's contribution as a team player. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

LONDON • Having seen Manchester United return to the Premier League summit after an 860-day wait, manager Louis van Gaal reiterated his desire to win silverware at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman's contract expires in 2017 and he is determined to win titles in all four countries where he has managed.

"I always want more," said the former Ajax, Barcelona, Alkmaar, Bayern Munich and two-time Netherlands manager.

"I have set my aims always in advance. It's the same thing as what I'm doing now. I shall retire. I always do what I have said. I have always set my own aims and I think that I have set my last aim also."

He has said he will walk away from the sport for good either when his current deal expires or at the end of any extension.

His longest tenure at any club is six years and he comes up against Arsene Wenger tomorrow in the week that the Frenchman celebrates 19 years at Arsenal.

Alex Ferguson spent over 26 years at Old Trafford but van Gaal insists he has no regrets about managing different teams, rather than create a legacy with one.

"I set aims and I was very lucky that clubs or national teams want me," he said.

"Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are other types I think."

The 64-year-old has spent over £250 million (S$542 million) on new signings as he seeks to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.

However, on Thursday, he singled out two unlikely heroes in their title charge - utility man Ashley Young and defender Chris Smalling.

Keen to lift Young's spirits after the England international was left out of Roy Hodgson's latest squad, van Gaal said: "Ashley Young is a very important player.

"In the first place, he is a team player and not many players are actually team players.

"But he is always thinking about the team and can play in a lot of positions and, for a manager, it's fantastic that he's willing to do that.

"He came on as a right full-back yesterday (in the Champions League against Wolfsburg) but he didn't play so much there and the second goal started with him, for example."

Similarly, Young's United team-mate Chris Smalling can play at full-back or centre-half, and van Gaal believes the player deserves all the credit for his excellent run of form in the current campaign.

Smalling and Danny Blind are the only United players who have played every minute of every game in all competitions this season.

Said van Gaal: "He does everything himself, the greatest compliment you need to make to Chris, not to me."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'Van Gaal raring to end on a high'. Print Edition | Subscribe