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'Devil' Van Gaal preaches patience at United

AFP
Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal signs autographs before a match in Manchester, England on August 12, 2014
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Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal signs autographs before a match in Manchester, England …

Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admitted Friday he felt he'd gone from 'king to devil' as he seeks to rebuild the Premier League giants.

The record 20-time English champions finished an unacceptably low seventh last season as the club struggled under the transition to David Moyes following the departure of long-serving manager Alex Ferguson.

Van Gaal was brought in to replace Moyes, who was sacked in April, and the Dutchman has stressed he faces a long-term job in restoring United to the top of the English game after the encouragement of a five-match unbeaten run in pre-season was dampened by an opening day defeat by Swansea City at Old Trafford.

"It is always like that. Two weeks ago I was the king of Manchester and now I’m the devil of Manchester," Van Gaal said Friday.

"That’s the football world and especially the media in this football world."

But Van Gaal insisted the club's supporters, US-based owners the Glazer family and chief executive Ed Woodward were all ready for a long haul.

"I think the fans of Manchester are intelligent. I’ve already said that the first three months will be difficult for the players and the fans. I’ve said it to Woodward and the Glazers that this is what it is.

"They have hired me for my philosophy, not because I’m a nice guy. I am a nice guy but that’s not why I was brought here," added van Gaal, who arrived at Old Trafford after guiding his native Netherlands to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Brazil.

"I’m not hired to be fired. I’m hired to build up a team. That process needs time. I bring another philosophy in the club.

"You have to believe in the philosophy that again we make a big club but it needs time. It is not an overnight job."

Van Gaal added he understood the frustration of fans and those like former United midfielder Paul Scholes, who has expressed his concern at the direction in which he fears the club is going.

But he also urged them to look ahead as he tries to rebuild the team following United's lowest league finish since 1990.

"I can imagine that the fans are also scared because they have seen the last year and they have seen now the first home match," Van Gaal said.

"They have to believe in the philosophy that we bring in this club. The players are believing that and they have shown it in the United States (in pre-season), now they have to show it here.

"It needs time, I have already said. Paul Scholes has to believe in the philosophy."

However, Van Gaal's task has been hindered by a growing injury list with new signing Ander Herrera the latest player to be sidelined at Old Trafford.

Herrera, United’s major pre-season signing, injured an ankle in training and will miss the Premier League match away to Sunderland on Sunday.

The full extent of the injury to the 25-year-old former Athletic Bilbao star is not yet known, but he joins fellow midfielders Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lindegaard on the injured list.

Defenders Jonny Evans, Luke Shaw and Rafael are also still sidelined, while new signing Marcos Rojo is not available as he waits to receive a work permit.

But Van Gaal will be able to pick striker Robin van Persie for the first time after the Dutch striker was granted an extended break following the World Cup.

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