Van Gaal's World Cup heroics will help him succeed at United
Dutchman's qualities have shone through in Brazil and there will be much excitement at his next stop in Manchester
(Robin van Persie 3-pen, Daley Blind 16, Georginio Wijnaldum 90+1)
Two images of Louis van Gaal immediately came to my mind as I watched him embrace his men moments after Holland claimed third place at this World Cup in Brazil.
In the weeks leading up to the Dutch team's campaign at the tournament, he cut an angry figure, lashing out at journalists pursuing him over his link with the Manchester United manager's job.
He was curt and dismissive, even rude, refusing to entertain questions on the subject.
And it went on for days.
With such a combustible figure roused with that size of distraction, you wondered how the Oranje were going to successfully negotiate a passage out of the first round of the World Cup when drawn against the likes of reigning champions Spain and a gifted-and-hungry Chile side.
Quite remarkably, a happy cloud of serenity has hung over the Dutch camp all through this tournament, perpetuated by a smiling, easygoing van Gaal.
His infamous scowl vanished here and along with the stunning form of Arjen Robben and that Goal of the Tournament by Robin van Persie, was vital in fostering a team spirit that ensured nearly a month of football for Holland which culminated in a slick and stylish win over an anaemic Brazil in their final game in Brasilia.
United fans will be excited.
Their new manager said after his final game with Holland that he will begin work on Wednesday.
Already, he has sanctioned transfer business worth £56 million ($119m), and Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw will probably not be the last of the new names who will become Red Devils.
The 62-year-old says he cannot wait to get started with the youngsters at Old Trafford.
His faith in young players here and ability to keep the explosive mix of egos of Robben, van Persie and Wesley Sneijder happy suggests he is tailor-made to take the United wheel.
And his dexterity with tactics throughout Holland's journey to the final weekend of the World Cup also suggests a level of sophistication not even witnessed during Alex Ferguson's long and glorious reign.
Former Liverpool and Real Madrid star Steve McManaman said in the press centre at the Maracana Stadium yesterday that van Gaal just seems excited at what lies ahead.
Dutch journalist Stefan Michaels told me the prospect of conquering another frontier will drive him forward.
Van Gaal has managed the biggest clubs in the world, he has enjoyed stunning success and bitter failures, but there seems to be a spring in the step of the Dutchman, as if landing the United job has fuelled his appetite for many more jousts on grand football stages.
Few felt the Oranje would bear fruit here.
They were imperious in qualifying but with van Persie troubled by injury entering the tournament, Sneijder looking spent and Robben having chalked up the miles in never-ending commitments with Bayern Munich, the detractors felt the Dutch would fade.
But van Gaal steered them to the top of the toughest group in the opening stage. He turned Ron Vlaar and Daley Blind into formidable defenders.
Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi, both 22, showed little fear alongside them as the team powered into the quarter-finals.
He took a gamble with a young and inexperienced goalkeeper in Jasper Cillessen and unleashed Tim Krul for the penalty shootout against Costa Rica.
Into the fray, he threw Georginio Wijnaldum, 23, and Memphis Depay, only 20, and the two youngsters will leave Brazil with their reputations enhanced after the side's run to the last four.
And veterans Nigel de Jong and Dirk Kuyt have wind in their sails after the manager trusted them to do a job for him that saw the Dutch eventually finish third.
Van Gaal entered the tournament seemingly irritated.He did have angry words for the Fifa organisers over match schedules and also barked at referees here, fighting for his players.
But the most compelling picture of van Gaal at this World Cup will be the high fives, big hugs and warm smiles he exchanged with the stars, youngsters and veterans in his team after they blitzed Spain, right through to the moment after they trounced Brazil.
That esprit de corps has been a feature of this Dutch side and it sparked an adventure that so nearly ended on football's mountain top.
Now, he is set to go on an adventure with yet another storied club.
And after a dismal campaign last season, made even darker by the ascension of their City neighbours and the rebirth of hated rivals Liverpool, United surely cannot wait for van Gaal to press lift off.
I don’t need a holiday. It’s great to have such an exciting challenge. To work daily with young people is something that I don’t need time off to rest for. I’m looking forward to it.
— Louis van Gaal on starting work at Man United on Wednesday
I'M STAYING AT BAYERN, SAYS ROBBEN
Holland winger Arjen Robben has ruled out the possibility of joining Manchester United.
Robben has been linked with United ever since it was announced that Louis van Gaal would be taking over at Old Trafford after the World Cup.
Robben said, following Holland's 3-0 win over Brazil yesterday morning (Singapore time), that van Gaal had offered him a place in the United squad next season.
The winger says he shares a "special bond" with van Gaal, but that does not mean he will be following the new United boss, who has indicated that he will start work at United on Wednesday, to Old Trafford for the new season.
"I have a special bond with him. He is the most important coach in my career," Robben said.
"(Moving to United) is not an option though. I will stay at Bayern Munich."
Robben (above) has been in top form under van Gaal's stewardship at the World Cup.
The former Chelsea winger has made the shortlist for Player of the Tournament after scoring three goals and making one assist during Holland's run to the last four.
But not signing a big-name player will not hinder van Gaal's task of reversing United's flagging fortunes, says former Holland and United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
The Mirror claims that the Red Devils are expecting to lose out in their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels, while possible moves for Arturo Vidal and Angel di Maria could fall through due to hefty valuations.
However, van der Sar is sure that the outgoing Dutch coach can work his magic at Old Trafford without requiring high-profile signings.
He said: "Van Gaal's best quality is to create a team and to get a squad playing brilliant football.
"Over the last few weeks, the United fans have witnessed how he guided this young, inexperienced Dutch squad to the semis - a squad who nobody gave a chance to finish in the top eight.
"Louis will arrive at Old Trafford with a glowing CV, based on the things he has done in European club football and on this World Cup in Brazil."
- Wire Services.