Of all the rivalries Louis van Gaal will handle while manager of Manchester United, the Dutchman thinks Sunday’s tussle with Manchester City at the Etihad is going to be the most important.
“This is the biggest derby that I shall manage,” van Gaal told reporters on Friday of the Sunday derby at 11am ET on NBCSN. “It is one of 38 [league] matches we have to play, but for the fans it is unbelievably big as a rivalry and I have felt that also with a lot of the players in the squad, but also especially with Ryan Giggs. When he presented the analysis on City, I felt more tension with him. It was good to see.”
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It’s worth noting that van Gaal seems keenly aware of the perceived missteps of his predecessor, David Moyes. Van Gaal has carefully crafted his messages to the media in ways that both lowered expectations for his players but raised the bar for himself.
He is quick to mention the importance of rivalries, one that for him probably carries less importance than to the fans who hear his messages. He’s a veteran manager of big clubs, and has learned from any mistakes he might’ve made at Barcelona. LVG is making sure his message is clearly heard and understood.
In short, he’s looking like a good hire (regardless of how much cash he’s been allowed to spend).
Van Gaal also mentioned that Wayne Rooney will return from his red card suspension for the Red Devils, while Radamel Falcao is out with a “knock” sustained in training.