• New manager orders double training for first team
• Futures of Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley under threat
Louis van Gaal began his first official day as Manchester United manager on Wednesday by being briefed by his staff, Albert Stuivenberg, Marcel Bout and Ryan Giggs, regarding which players had impressed during his absence, before the Dutchman took his first session at 5.30pm.
Van Gaal introduced himself to the players individually during lunch but it is understood he is waiting for the return of many of those who are on a post-World Cup break, including Wayne Rooney, before he addresses the squad as a whole.
Stuivenberg, the assistant coach, and Bout, the chief opposition scout, had led the debrief regarding the squad, with Van Gaal’s countrymen having emerged as the more prominent figures when leading training.
Van Gaal landed at Manchester airport at 11.50am before being taken in a club car to Carrington. He was shown around a “buzzing” complex, including the manager’s office previously occupied by David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson.
Van Gaal was unable to meet all of the club staff but at 1pm he had lunch with the first-team and youth players plus their respective coaching staffs, as he had ordered, and which will be the ongoing routine. He then posed for pictures alongside Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, and Giggs.
The players had been at Carrington since 9.30am for the first of the double sessions Van Gaal has ordered, with the first of them being taken by his backroom team. After lunch the squad were told to report back for the 5.30pm session, with players free to go home or sleep on site, as Van Gaal prepared to lead them for the first time.
With Van Gaal’s transfer priorities a centre-back and central midfielder, the Dutchman took particular note of Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley during training. Because the former has two years left on his contract and the latter a year, their futures are under threat as the manager decides who should be part of his plans.
Van Gaal wants to buy Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen, and Smalling could be offered as a makeweight in any deal if Arsène Wenger wants to ensure he has a replacement for the Belgian.
Other players who have two years or less remaining on their terms and who Van Gaal is assessing include Javier Hernández, Shinji Kagawa, Darren Fletcher and Ashley Young.
With United flying to America on Friday for their summer tour, Van Gaal will effectively use the coming week until the first game, against LA Galaxy on 24 July in Pasadena, to assess which of these six are of value to him.
As Thursday is expected to be a day off for the squad to be with their families before flying to Los Angeles on Friday, Van Gaal will devote the day to speaking with Woodward and agents regarding his pursuit of players, with Mats Hummels another potential acquisition.
One who will not be joining is Arturo Vidal, according to Giuseppe Marotta, the Juventus chief executive officer, who stated that the Chilean was “not for sale” and was content at the club.
The move from Marotta to clarify the midfielder’s position would seem to confirm Vidal will remain at Juventus. “Vidal is not for sale,” said the Italian. “He is one of the most important players in the squad. He is happy to be here. Many things have been written. We’ve never put him up for sale. Important clubs have asked after him but we have never sat down to talk. The player decides and yesterday Vidal showed that he is happy to continue with us.”One source said there was a “real buzz” at Carrington on Van Gaal’s arrival, and his impact had already been felt at the box office. The club sold out of season tickets at the end of the first week of the month, three weeks earlier than expected.