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The former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax boss will settle for nothing less than absolute commitment from his players as he plans to implement a number of changes at the club

SPECIAL REPORT
By Paul Clennam

Officially, Louis van Gaal will take over as Manchester United's new guardian on Wednesday morning. The staff at Carrington have been warned, preparations put in place, and the players told to report for instructions first thing.

However, on the back of a season in which United limped to a seventh-place finish, the Dutch manager has already been fastidiously putting plans in place for his new regime.

Already, United players are on notice. Van Gaal's will be a different Manchester United - a United built on rules and discipline.

The now former Netherlands manager is clear; there is much work to do, much change to effect.

And the new regime will be no better represented than by the sweeping changes to Carrington operations that are already taking effect on Van Gaal's orders.



For a start, the former Bayern, Ajax and Barcelona boss plans to implement double training sessions at United ahead of the new season.

To facilitate this, the club are already in the process of installing floodlights at the training ground to allow for late afternoon sessions during the winter months, when daylight hours are shorter.

Van Gaal also plans to accommodate the players with a sleep and rest zone at Carrington. United have taken delivery of some new beds to save the squad from having to travel between sessions, though they will be given the option of returning home should they prefer.

A very particular sort of disciplinarian who demands respectful behaviour from his players, Van Gaal will fine anybody who arrives late for training.

A £1,000 fine will be paid, too, by anyone who fails to arrive on time at lunch in the Carrington canteen, where the Dutchman has asked that the players are separated from the coaching staff.

Van Gaal was also known during his time at Bayern Munich to take players to task for failing to sit correctly during meals.

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Such specific requests have caused friction in the past. In a training camp during his first spell in charge of the Netherlands between 2000 and 2001, Van Gaal insisted his squad and staff wore the same clothing - socks included.

Some of the same players who had won the Champions League with Van Gaal as part of a youthful Ajax side in 1995 had grown tired of his methods, and the Dutch failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

But commitment to the Dutchman's ideology has also produced results throughout his career. Van Gaal possesses a CV littered with league championships and with cup wins across Europe, in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany.

He is not quite the brutal disciplinarian he once was - the wives and girlfriends of the Netherlands players were allowed to stay in the team hotel before the Spain game - but the fact remains that any dissent is invariably given short shrift.

"I hope the group in Manchester will become like this one," Van Gaal said shortly after the Netherlands' third place play-off win over Brazil. "We have to sing from the same hymn sheet. I hope at Manchester United I can do my best. I will do my best."

Robin van Persie has already been converted to the church of Van Gaal.

If senior members of the United squad are receptive to the 62-year-old's new regime, the glory days may return to Old Trafford again before long.

For those that are not, the message is clear; close the door on your way out.

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