Louis van Gaal’s appointment as Manchester United manager did not really come as a surprise. After all, it was widely expected that the Dutchman will be made the permanent boss of England’s biggest club after this summer’s World Cup finals.
What will come as news to many is the fact that he could have become the Red Devils boss as early as 2002.
That was the year when Sir Alex Ferguson was expected to retire. The legendary Scot had already revealed that at the end of the 2001-02 campaign, he would be leaving Old Trafford for good.
However, Ferguson eventually made a U-turn on his decision and publicly committed himself to the Red Devils in February 2002. What has happened since then is history, with United winning the Premier League six more times and the Champions League once among other trophies.
Van Gaal claimed in his autobiography in 2009 that he was contacted by United in 2002 to succeed Ferguson, and five years on, he has continued to maintain that stance.
‘I was going to replace him in 2002, when he wanted to quit’, he told Dutch TV in quotes published by Goal.com. ‘But in the end he came back’.
In addition to reiterating that United wanted him more than a decade ago, Van Gaal has also claimed that it was them who contacted him, not the other way round.
‘I didn't call Manchester United, I didn't call Bayern Munich, they've always called me’, said the 62-year-old. ‘And I'm proud of that’.
Van Gaal is not known for his modesty and these comments so early in his United career demonstrate just what is in store. English football has another manager with character and personality.