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Van Gaal picked to skipper Red Devils

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POSTED May 20, 2014 1:41 a.m.

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United broke with 136 years of tradition to welcome Louis van Gaal as its new manager and saw midfield great Ryan Giggs end his storied playing career to take up a coaching role on another tumultuous day at England’s biggest club.

Exactly a year after waving goodbye to Alex Ferguson and his 26 seasons of steady success, the most turbulent 12 months of United’s recent history ended with the club’s hierarchy, new coaching staff and fans expressing confidence that the good times are about to return.

In a widely anticipated move, Van Gaal was handed the sizeable task of restoring the team’s fortunes following the woeful 10-month reign of David Moyes, signing a three-year deal that will begin once he finishes his duties with the Netherlands national team at the upcoming World Cup.

The 62-year-old Dutchman, who will be United’s first manager from outside Britain or Ireland, has the experience of coaching — and winning titles — at top European teams Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He will be viewed as a much safer bet than Moyes, who proved to be too inexperienced at the highest level.

Assisting Van Gaal will be Giggs, who brought to a close his 23-year career on the same day that he became a full-time football coach at the club he made his name as one of Britain’s greatest ever players.

After 13 league titles, two Champions Leagues, a club-record 963 appearances and 168 goals, Giggs is swapping his boots for a suit at Old Trafford.

“For me, today is new chapter filled with many emotions — immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future,” Giggs said in an open letter.

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