A pair of European soccer giants officially welcomed new head coaches Monday with England's Manchester United confirming the appointment of Dutch World Cup Coach Louis van Gaal to head that team while in Spain, Barcelona announced the hiring of Luis Enrique to fill the vacancy left by Gerardo Martino's resignation.
Manchester United's decision to go with Van Gaal has been rumored since the team sacked former coach David Moyes in April en route to a disappointing seventh-place finish in the English Premier League. The team had named Ryan Giggs as player-coach to finish out the season, and on Monday, Giggs was given a spot on the new coaching staff.
Van Gaal, 62, said Monday he always wanted to coach in the Premier League and now he has a three-year deal to direct one of the world's most iconic teams.
"This club has big ambitions. I too have big ambitions," he said. "Together I'm sure we will make history."
"His track record of success in winning leagues and cups across Europe throughout his career makes him the perfect choice," said Ed Woodward, Manchester United's executive vice chairman.
Because of his World Cup duties, it's likely Van Gaal's first game on the touchline for Manchester United will come in the Rose Bowl when his new team plays the Galaxy in an exhibition.
Barcelona, meanwhile, narrowly missed out on winning the La Liga title Saturday when it drew with Atletico Madrid. But finishing second meant Barcelona would go without winning a major title for the first time in six seasons, and that was enough for push the 51-year-old Martino out after just one season
Enrique, 44, is a former Barcelona captain and "B" team coach who most recently worked for Celta Vigo, leading it to a ninth-place finish in La Liga in his only season at the helm.
Enrique, who is to be introduced Wednesday, was given a two-year contract.