"Before I can start with the questions, van Gaal beats me to it. He lays his palm on the desk. ‘I have a notebook, for you,’ he says. ‘It’s always what I show my players. You can make the system that we’re playing now.’ He is inviting me to prove to him that I understand how United now line-up."
"I’m on the back foot. The gauntlet has been thrown down. ‘You want me to?’ I say. ‘Yeah, of course,’ he says. ‘You can do that. Or not?’ By now I feel a prickly heat. I say: ‘I’ll have a go, but you’re going to tell me I’m wrong.’ van Gaal gives me a penetrating look: ‘You are a little bit … shy?’"
"Three-quarters of an hour later, I leave his office feeling drained. This was the first time in 30 years I had been called ‘shy’. But what followed was a series of fascinating insights into Van Gaal’s philosophy on football and his plans for United, which are based on youth, ‘always the long-term’, and guiding the players through a three-month crash-course in how he wants them to operate."
"Every great coach is resolute about their philosophy. van Gaal is entrenched. It must be his way or no way at all. Last season, I confess, I was worried about United after a disastrous campaign. I was concerned about where the club would go next. There was talk straight after David Moyes left that a foreign manager would come in. I had seen what had happened at other clubs, where a 60-year philosophy is ripped up in favour of three-year cycles, with each new manager turning the culture upside down."
"I left Carrington feeling that van Gaal is, in fact, true to the traditions laid down by Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson. I’m not saying he will stay 25 years. But he holds to the same principles. He offers reassurance: ‘My teams shall improve through the season,’ he says. ‘That is not a question,’ meaning - that is not in doubt. ‘They shall improve.’"
- Gary Neville