At Holland's World Cup training camp Louis van Gaal is a man alone. The focus of the media circus that has descended on Hoenderloo's Golden Tulip Victoria hotel, which is nestled in the countryside, is a 62-year-old who balks at discussing becoming the successor to David Moyes as Manchester United's manager.
He is the only one. While Van Gaal wants to discuss his squad's tilt at Brazil 2014 all anyone else wants to hear are his thoughts on the job awaiting him once Holland's tournament is over.
His talking in regard to United is being done in private and on Wednesday he is expected to meet Ryan Giggs in the Netherlands to discuss the 40-year-old's future at Old Trafford. Giggs, who has served as interim manager since Moyes's departure, must decide whether to accept the offer of a senior role on Van Gaal's staff and whether to continue playing.
Van Gaal's press conference here, after a training session with his Netherlands-based players in the hotel grounds, was a breezy affair but when questioned about United he offered only the odd morsel in response.
As United worked furiously all day and into the night on the final details of Van Gaal's appointment in the hope this might finally be announced , the Dutchman was pressed about what would be the fifth club of his management career.
"You should ask Manchester United," offered the former Ajax, Barcelona, AZ and Bayern Munich coach. "I'm not going to speak about Manchester United. I am speaking about the Dutch national team only. Last week I said four and a half sentences and it made 60 pages."
As Moyes discovered during his dismal tenure, the light shone on the United manager is directed to all corners of the globe in a fashion that even being a title-winner at all of those previous clubs can hardly prepare Van Gaal for. Still, he ploughed on with the saying-little approach.
Wednesday is a blank day for Van Gaal and his Holland players. Asked whether he might make a flying visit to Old Trafford to be introduced, he said: "Ask Manchester, I don't know. Now there will be press sitting outside my house to see what I'm doing.
"I said a few words last week about Manchester United because there were uninvited English journalists here and I thought it would be a little mean-spirited if I did not answer a few of their questions. I mumbled a few words to them and from that they write 60 full pages but you can't do anything about it."
While Van Gaal stated then he would "love the job" of being manager, when questions are finally permitted about United one should concern the expected acquisition of Luke Shaw.
The Guardian understands that the Southampton left-back is being bought without the approval of Van Gaal, so to hear how this squares with the martinet manager of repute who needs total control over team matters could be revealing.
And he does cut a stern figure. In the morning Van Gaal was last on to the training pitch holding a stopwatch and with whistle in mouth, the mode of the PE teacher he once was still retained. After his players were split into pairs and tied to each other with a bungee-type lead to test each other's resistance, Van Gaal watched a practice match that included the former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt, now of Fenerbahce, and Chelsea's Marco van Ginkel.
On Thursday Robin van Persie arrives to join the squad he captains. Van Gaal offered his clearest sign yet that the man he appointed as his leader last summer may also be handed the United armband.
Van Gaal's default formation is 4‑3‑3 yet he has consulted Van Persie on potentially switching to a 3‑5‑2."I discussed changing the formation with Robin as I talk about these matters with my captain," he said. "He was here in Holland to recover from his [knee] injury. And he went to games with me. I spoke to him about the way of playing, my ideas, and we discussed it while we were watching the games."
Wayne Rooney had been in line to be the next captain under Moyes' management. How he might feel about Van Gaal favouring Van Persie in the role is only one of the myriad subplots that will intrigue when United finally have their man in place.