Louis van Gaal has promised to make history with Manchester United after being named on Monday as manager of “the biggest club in the world”.
One of the worst-kept secrets within football finally became public knowledge when the Netherlands’ manager was named as new boss of the struggling English giants.
United’s record appearance holder Ryan Giggs will be his assistant after announcing he was ending his playing career.
Van Gaal, 62, has signed a three-year contract to succeed David Moyes, sacked in April – less than 12 months into a six-year contract – after a disastrous run culminating in failure to qualify for the Champions League.
A disciplinarian who rarely lacks confidence, van Gaal has won domestic titles and cups with Ajax, AZ Alkmaar, Barcelona and Bayern Munich as well as guiding Ajax to Champions League glory.
And he was in no doubt he could enjoy more success in his first job in English football.
“It was always a wish for me to work in the Premier League,” he said.
“To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world, makes me very proud.
“I have managed in games at Old Trafford before and know what an incredible arena Old Trafford is and how passionate and knowledgeable the fans are.
“This club has big ambitions. I too have big ambitions. Together, I’m sure we will make history.”
However, Dutch national duties mean van Gaal won’t be able to join United until after the World Cup – not until mid-July if the Netherlands reach the latter stages in Brazil.
Giggs, 40, was in charge for United’s final four games of the season after Moyes’ departure, and said he was thrilled to have the chance to serve as assistant manager.
“Louis van Gaal is a world-class coach and I know I will learn a lot about coaching from being able to observe and contribute at such close quarters,” Giggs said.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said the club had “secured the services of one of the outstanding managers in the game today”.
And United striker Wayne Rooney welcomed his new boss by tweeting: “Great to see Louis Van Gaal has been named @ManUtd manager. Looking forward to working with him.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who worked under van Gaal at Barcelona and later denied him a second Champions League title when his Inter Milan side beat the Dutchman’s Bayern Munich in 2010, also had warm words for the new Old Trafford supremo.
“He is a great football manager and I am happy he joins me in the same country and the Premier League,” Mourinho said.
“But more important than that, he’s a great guy, a great man and I wish him good,” the Portuguese added.
Van Gaal is set to rejuvenate an ageing squad with major changes in defence expected after decisions by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand to leave United.