MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal was hired as Manchester United manager on Monday, tasked with repairing the damage from David Moyes' disappointing 10 months in charge and reviving the fortunes of one of the world's biggest clubs.
The 62-year-old Dutchman has signed a three-year contract and will take over at Old Trafford after the World Cup in Brazil, becoming the first United manager from outside Britain and Ireland. United great Ryan Giggs, who announced the end of his 23-year playing career, will be Van Gaal's assistant.
"To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world, makes me very proud," Van Gaal said in a United statement. "This club has big ambitions; I too have big ambitions. Together I'm sure we will make history."
Van Gaal has experience of coaching — and winning league titles — at some of the world's top teams, but even spells at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich may not prepare him for the rebuilding job required at United.
The club has been in a state of flux since the retirement of Alex Ferguson last May after nearly 27 years in charge. Moyes, Ferguson's successor, was dismissed last month before the team went on to finish seventh — its lowest placing since the Premier League's inception in 1992.
United also failed to qualify for European football for the first time in 24 years.
Van Gaal is likely to be handed considerable funds to strengthen the squad to get United back in the Champions League, something the club's American owners — the Glazer family — weren't prepared to give Moyes. A return to Europe's top competition will likely be the priority, followed by a desire to play the kind of attacking, dynamic brand of football expected at United but unable to be delivered by Moyes.
United has broken the mold by appointing Van Gaal.
In the club's 136-year history, no previous manager has come from outside Britain or Ireland, a common occurrence at England's other big clubs in recent years.
The notion of United hiring coaches in a bid to create a dynasty — something Ferguson uniquely achieved — also appears to have ended. After spending six years at Ajax, where Van Gaal guided a talented young team to the pinnacle of European football by winning the Champions League in 1995, he joined Barcelona in 1997 for the first of two spells — the first lasting three seasons and the second barely half a year. He has since coached AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch league and Bayern between 2009-11.