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Man United legend reveals that van Gaal punched him the first time they met

When Louis van Gaal pitched up at Old Trafford to become Man United’s manager after David Moyes’ disastrous reign, it was always known that the Dutchman was an acquired taste.

You either loved him or hated him, and in many cases it was possible to do both, given that he was excellent in a tactical sense but not always the best at man management.

Now, United legend, Ryan Giggs, has admitted that when the pair first met, he had to take one for the team as van Gaal punched him in the stomach.

It’s not clear why the coach thought such behaviour was appropriate, but Giggs didn’t appear to take it too personally.

“He was different. He was very dominating,” he told Jamie Carragher’s Greatest Game Podcast, cited by The Sun.

“The first time I met him he punched me in the stomach.

“I’ve gone to meet him, we’ve got a list of players that I think were good and the ones that were not so good.

“I’ve gone to meet him a hotel, he’s opened the door, looked me up and down and gone ‘you are in good shape!’ then he punched me in the stomach.

“It was hard as well and I didn’t know what to do. You could have given something back but that’s me out of a job.

“But that’s what he was like. He was very dominating and would be right up in your face.

“He would be a nightmare now with social distancing. He would be right up in your face, looking down on you and very direct.

“He looked after his staff and players and he was a really good person but just very quirky.”

Though the pair won an FA Cup together, it’s difficult to look back on that period in United’s history and say it was an out and out success.

There were elements of their time together that worked well, but as double acts go, it wasn’t the greatest.

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