Louis van Gaal will officially start work as Manchester United manager next week before flying out with his new squad on 18 July for the summer tour of America.
After Holland failed to qualify for the World Cup final following penalty shootout defeat to Argentina, the 62-year-old will now end his tenure coaching the side with Saturday’s third-place play-off game against Brazil. Van Gaal is then expected to travel straight back to Amsterdam, attending an official World Cup reception on Monday, and so may arrive in Manchester as early as Tuesday.
The hope at Old Trafford is to have Van Gaal’s unveiling on Wednesday or Thursday – he is yet to have one due to the World Cup – before the club take an early afternoon flight to Los Angeles on Friday. There, United begin the two-week tour with a training camp before the opening match, against LA Galaxy at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl on 23 July.
Defender Chris Smalling says the tour will be vital to the new manager’s preparations: “Pre-season is always massively important and the tour gives the manager an opportunity to get all the players together and drill home his ideas that will last for the rest of the season. It’s a crucial period.”
Van Gaal, who has been in regular contact with the United executive during the World Cup, will step up his efforts to strengthen the squad next week, with Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels, Real Madrid’s Ángel Di María and Juventus’s Arturo Vidal high on his list of priorities.
Meanwhile, United are yet to decide whether to play any lucrative friendlies next season to ease the £35m-plus loss of having no European football for the first time since 1989.
The club have been considering whether to do so since the spring when the prospect of finishing outside a Europa League place under the former manager, David Moyes, became apparent.
However with Van Gaal having replaced Moyes the plans are now in the balance, with nothing finalised. United do not need permission from the Premier League or any other governing body to arrange the games, so the decision will be taken on a logistical basis.
Van Gaal may decide that after Liverpool finished second last term having had no European football, he wants his new team to focus solely on challenging again with no distractions.
As United are constantly offered multi-million-pound deals to play around the world in exhibition and testimonial games, the club hierarchy would be confident of filling the financial shortfall created by being out of European competition.
Last season United turned down a sizeable offer to play a friendly during a warm-weather break in Dubai, and potential opposition could be against sides from the Middle East, China or America.
United played a testimonial in Saudi Arabia, in January 2008, for the former Wolverhampton Wanderers reserve team player Sami Al-Jaber. The team jetted out to the Middle East directly after a Premier League game against Reading on a Saturday for the friendly two days later in what was a 6,000-mile round trip.
While that exercise yielded the club around £1m, during the six intervening years the increase in social media and new pay-per-view models means they could expect to earn considerable sums from other friendlies, beyond any appearance money offered by the hosts.
United made last August’s pre-season friendly with the Swedish side AIK available on pay-per-view for £5.95. With the club’s huge global fanbase, the earnings from matches sold in this way next year are potentially lucrative.