19 May, 2015, Manchester United Payer of the Year event, Manchester, United Kingdom
It's always difficult to give a resume of the season, but when you start a season with 10 matches and 13 points and you are a manager of a club, the most world famous club, then you play at home - and I am also a human being – and I have the experience of other clubs, that when you have that result, you are not very beloved by your fans.
But I came in the stadium of Old Trafford, 10 matches, 13 points, and I came in and thought to myself 'how do I have to behave myself?' and then the public were applauding, standing up, and I thought 'how is it possible that the fans are supporting me?'.
But thanks to that, we could continue, and not only me of course. My staff, but especially the players, because it is not so easy, when you are playing in such a great club as Manchester United, that you have 10 matches, 13 points, and a new manager who demands in another way from all the other managers. It's very difficult.
And with all the injuries, all the injuries of the first half of the season, and then we continue with the spirit in the team – unbelievable. And that's the credit to this team – the spirit in the team.
We came from, in my memory, 13th place to third position in the league. That was the highest classification, third position after such a bad start.
And then we had to believe, the players and also the staff, that we could end in second. I remember the meeting we had with the players, with the captain Wayne Rooney, saying we go for the second position in the league.
And I said 'YESSS!' [Van Gaal punches the air]. 'We GO for it! But, okay, Christmas time, Arsenal FA Cup, we lost. You remember the FA Cup game against Arsenal? We were the better team.
And the best player on the pitch in my opinion made an error and we lost that game. After that, the meeting I have just talked about was then.
Then you have to remember that we won six games in a row and then we went to Chelsea. You remember the away game at Chelsea? No, no, no, you have to listen.
At that time, we had 50 points and Wayne Rooney sat in the dressing-room and said 'We go for second place'. He said that, second position in the league table. Then six games in a row we won, then we go to Chelsea.
Who were the better team then? It's easy to say that now, in this room. I can believe it, but it's the truth. But we lost. We lost that game but can you imagine, when you have 80 per cent ball possession, 10 big possibilities, and they have three, they have three, and they win the game.
When we win that game, count the numbers of points we could have won, because after that we lost another two games, to lose three in a row.
But when you see that we had 13 points and Chelsea have 83 points [now], then we could have been champions.
So what I want to say to you is that we are VERY CLOSE [shouts] but, as a manager, I know that if it's not counting, we have to produce more.
And believe me, the players, also the staff, the organisation at Manchester United, shall do their utmost best and why? Because we have the best fans in the world. Thank-you for that and I will see you again next season.”
Van Gaal then came back on to the stage to thank a female saxophonist who had played at the event earlier in the evening.
I want to say something,” said Van Gaal, reclaiming the microphone. “Hello, hello, hey! Pay attention to the manager. Ryan Giggs said to me, and he is right, he is always right, but particularly in this case.
I have always said to you that you are the best fans in the world, but I was tonight a little bit disappointed, and I shall say why. I have seen a lady who plays the saxophone fantastically – give her a big applause!