LOUIS VAN GAAL has confirmed that next season will be his last as Manchester United manager – but aims to leave a lasting legacy.
He dismissed talk that he was prepared to extend his stay at Old Trafford but added there was still plenty of work to do before he heads into the sunset.
The 64-year-old Dutchman also confessed that his successor – he wants it to be Ryan Giggs – is likely to reap the rewards of his labour.
Before facing a Southampton side, who like United have a tradition for promoting youth, Van Gaal admitted: “It would be difficult for me to see this team reach its potential because that would mean I would have to stay.
“You have seen what I have said about that – and I always do the things that I have said.”
Van Gaal’s stance has consistently been that he will honour the three year contract he signed when he joined the club before the start of last season.
He also aims to follow his doctrine at clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich where he left behind emerging talent which would form the bedrock of future teams.
“At Barcelona there was Xavi captain, Andres Iniesta captain, Victor Valdes, for 10 years the backbone of the club and the culture.”he explained.
“In Munich now there is Thomas Muller, David Alaba, Holger Badstuber. It is the same. Bastian Schweinsteiger is now out but the other three are the guards of the culture.
Maybe when I am gone Luke Shaw shall the guard of the culture. Or Adnan Januzaj or Anthony Martial, but he has to speak first the language!”
The development of young players is still key, he insists. Two of his biggest buys, Memphis Depay and Martial have their best years ahead of them.
“At Manchester United we have a culture to play with young players. It is important for us to educate young players in that culture. We have seen the Class of ’92, for example.
“Of course, it depends on the quality of the young players, but still we have that culture and we have to continue with it.
“When you see how we play, with Shaw, who is 20, with Memphis who is 21, and Martial, who is 19, then you see that we are continuing with the culture of Manchester United.
“I am a trainer-coach who believes in youth. I believe I have a very good eye for young talent. Of course, it is easier to buy the big stars but also the big stars can fail, and that we have seen last year.
“And that is why I have always said you have to invest in young players. Ok, then I know they are not ready yet, that is why I have said already. It’s more for my successor than for myself.”
One player who has proved he can play on the big stage is former Saint Morgan Schneiderlin, one of Van Gaal’s summer investments at the cost of £24 million.
The United boss added: “He has played a lot of matches and for a player from Southampton, it is a big step to move to Manchester United and get used to how we prepare.
“I think he is doing well. He has to adapt to the level of Manchester United, but he hasn’t had to adapt to the level of the Premier League because he was already here. I expect that he shall improve every week.”