Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal says he could not have stayed in charge of one club for as long as Arsene Wenger has Arsenal.
Wenger, whose Arsenal side host table-topping United in the Premier League on Sunday, became their manager 19 years ago this week.
Van Gaal’s career has been far more nomadic. His first stint as a head coach – at Ajax between 1991 and 1997 – remains his longest, and if the 64-year-old sticks to his word he will end his time with United by retiring in 2017.
The Dutchman, who has expressed his ambition to win both the Premier League and Champions League with United, says he is a different “type” of manager to Wenger and Sir Ferguson, who was in charge of the Red Devils from 1986 to 2013.
Asked if he wished he had spent a huge amount of time at one club like Wenger and Ferguson, Van Gaal said: “I had a long time at Ajax – at that time I was young, and I took that challenge.
“But it also depends on your character – what do you want? I always want more.”
Since his time at Ajax, Van Gaal has added spells with Barcelona, the Holland national team (both twice) AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich to his impressive CV.
“I have always done what I have said,” he added.
“I said in advance I wanted to coach the Dutch national team, and I was invited. I wanted to go abroad, and I was invited. I wanted to go back to the Netherlands, and I did – then I wanted go to Germany, and I wanted another time to be national coach.
“I set aims and I was very lucky that clubs or national teams wanted me. Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are other types I think.”
When asked if it is hard for a manager who stays a long time at a club to ensure players do not get bored of him or stop listening, Van Gaal said: “It is not like that – certainly not with me, because my selections are never the same. I have always taken my own decisions.”
Van Gaal earlier this week cast some doubt on the idea that he will walk away from United in 18 months by saying “you never know”, but also stressed delaying his retirement would be hard on his wife.
And he added ahead of the Arsenal game: “I have set my aims always in advance, which is the same thing I am doing now – I shall retire. I think I have said my last aim to you.”
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