x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Van Gaal says Robben welcome at Manchester United, warns supporters ‘losing is part of sport’

While cryptically acknowledging Arjen Robben 'knows he's welcome' at United on Saturday, Louis van Gaal also warned club supporters that, unlike his Dutch team at the World Cup, sometimes they would lose.

Louis van Gaal and Arjen Robben celebrate after the Netherlands' 3-0 win over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup third-place play-off match on Saturday. Vanderlei Almeida / AFP / July 12, 2014
Louis van Gaal and Arjen Robben celebrate after the Netherlands' 3-0 win over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup third-place play-off match on Saturday. Vanderlei Almeida / AFP / July 12, 2014

The Netherlands’ Bayern Munich forward Arjen Robben is welcome at Manchester United, said Old Trafford-bound Louis van Gaal after Saturday’s World Cup third-place play-off win over Brazil.

“He knows he’s welcome,” the outgoing Dutch manager told the NOS public broadcaster in his last match in charge before joining United.

Van Gaal was speaking after the Netherlands’ 3-0 win in Brasilia to claim third place.

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Van Gaal also sought to temper expectations among Manchester United fans excited about his impending arrival at Old Trafford after the Netherlands ended their World Cup campaign on a high.

His side ran out convincing 3-0 winners against hosts Brazil in the third-place match at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha thanks to a Robin van Persie penalty and further goals by Daley Blind and Georginio Wijnaldum.

They go home unbeaten, with their semi-final exit against Argentina only coming after a penalty shootout, but Van Gaal warned United supporters that they will inevitably find themselves on the losing side from time to time.

“I couldn’t do it with Ajax, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Losing is part of sport,” he said.

“I just hope that at Manchester United I can do my best. Whether that’s enough for the fans, we’ll have to wait and see, but I genuinely hope that will be the case.”

Dutch success at this World Cup was in large part thanks to the excellent team spirit that he forged, and his decision to hand goalkeeper Michel Vorm a late appearance as a substitute against Brazil means all 23 members of the Dutch squad played some part at the tournament.

“There will always be a place in my heart for these 23 players,” said van Gaal, who will be replaced as Dutch coach by Guus Hiddink.

“My players were great. I hope that the group in Manchester will become like this one because we have to read from the same hymn sheet. I hope I can get them to do that there.”

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