While avoiding starting his Manchester United reign with any bold predictions or statements of intent, Louis van Gaal still projected an aura of authority and conviction in his ability to take on one of the biggest jobs in football.
There was none of the uneasiness at Thursday's official presentation that was evident last July when the ill-fated David Moyes appeared overwhelmed at the task of succeeding Alex Ferguson after 26 years.
It's little wonder. Moyes arrived at Old Trafford from Everton without a major trophy to his name. Van Gaal is a proven winner as a manager, collecting titles at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich before leading the Netherlands to an unexpected third-place finish at the World Cup on Saturday.
The 62-year-old Van Gaal is so self-assured that he felt confident enough — on just his second official day in the United job — to question the main training pitch and flag up the club's focus on money-making.
"It's the biggest club of the world," Van Gaal said at Old Trafford. "Within two days I know already how important Manchester United is but also how important the sponsors are."
Just this week, United signed a 10-year kit deal with Adidas that will be worth at least $1.3 billion, and then added Japanese noodle maker Nissin to its ever-expanding collection of global sponsors.
"This club is ... guided in a commercial way and we have to fulfill that," Van Gaal said. "It's not always possible to fulfill the commercial expectations (and) the football expectations. That is my big challenge after two days."
What Van Gaal will be judged on is returning United to the Champions League. Under Moyes, United went from winning a 20th English title in Ferguson's final act as manager to seventh-place finishers, even missing out on Europa League qualification.
"I cannot give predictions because you never know," he said. "There's a lot of expectation but it's also a great challenge because of that."
A challenge that requires time to overhaul a team that went into an alarming slump under Moyes.
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