With Tim Sherwood's job almost constantly under the microscope during the second half of the 2013-14 campaign, Netherlands coach Van Gaal was hotly tipped to step in at White Hart Lane.
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But after David Moyes was sacked by the Red Devils, the 62-year-old Dutchman was offered the job as his replacement, leaving Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino to move to north London at the end of the season.
And Van Gaal revealed that his love of Jimmy Greaves as a child almost saw him agree a deal to take over at Spurs before the opportunity arose at the deposed Premier League champions.
"I came very close [to taking over as manager of Tottenham]. Very close," he told reporters.
"As a little boy I was a fan of Tottenham Hotspur with the team of Jimmy Greaves when he was the champion. Jimmy Greaves was my idol, so I was very close."
The veteran coach has been described by United and Netherlands striker Robin van Persie as being intense, with some concerned his style of management will alienate players at the 20-times English champions.
Van Gaal agrees that he doesn't necessarily get on with every individual he has managed, but defended his style as one of trying to build the best relationships he can with his squad.
"I think it is very important," he added. "I am a coach who wants a good relationship with my players.
"I do everything to reach that level but sometimes it is not reachable as the players are not open-minded and don’t adapt to the norms that I put in the team.
"Most of the players say lovely things about me. There are also players who are very angry with me – Franck Ribery, Luca Toni, Hristo Stoichkov and Rivaldo."