Football

Van Gaal to Robben: You're welcome at Man United

Van Gaal drops hint to star forward, but seeks to temper expectations among United fans

THIRD-PLACE PLAY-OFF

BRAZIL 0

HOLLAND 3

(Robin van Persie 3-pen, Daley Blind 16, Georginio Wijnaldum 90+1)

Holland's Bayern Munich forward Arjen Robben is welcome at Manchester United, said Old Trafford-bound Louis van Gaal after this morning's (Singapore time) third-place play-off win over Brazil.

"He knows he's welcome," the outgoing Dutch coach told the NOS public broadcaster in his last match in charge before joining United.

Robben (above, right) was not asked about van Gaal's open invitation to join United, but he hailed a "great end" to the World Cup for Holland after they beat Brazil 3-0 to claim third place.

An early penalty from Robin van Persie set the Dutch on their way to victory over the hosts and Daley Blind added a second in the 16th minute.

Georginio Wijnaldum rounded off a comfortable win with an injury-time goal, leaving Robben proud of the team's achievements after bouncing back from a semi-final loss to Argentina on penalties.

Robben said: "It was a great end - you can get rid of a bit of the shock of not going to the final, but not completely. The disappointment stays, we've been so close. We deserved more.

"I'm finished, I've given everything. We've come so close.

"That's why the third place is so deserved. I'm so proud of this team, compliments to them."

Whether Robben takes up van Gaal's United invitation remains to be seen but the 62-year-old coach sought to temper expectations among United fans excited about his impending arrival at Old Trafford.

The Dutch go home unbeaten, with their semi-final exit against Argentina only coming after a penalty shoot-out, but van Gaal warned United supporters that they will inevitably find themselves on the losing side from time to time.

"I couldn't do it with Ajax, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Losing is part of sport," van Gaal said.

"I just hope that at Manchester United I can do my best. Whether that's enough for the fans, we'll have to wait and see, but I genuinely hope that will be the case."

Holland's success at this World Cup was in large part thanks to the excellent team spirit that he forged, and his decision to hand goalkeeper Michel Vorm a late appearance as a substitute against Brazil means all 23 members of the Dutch squad played some part at the tournament.

"There will always be a place in my heart for these 23 players," said van Gaal, who will be replaced as Dutch coach by Guus Hiddink.

"My players were great. I hope that the group in Manchester will become like this one because we have to read from the same hymn sheet.

"I hope I can get them to do that there." - Wire Services.

World Cup