Ryan Giggs on bizarre first meeting with Louis van Gaal that began with a punch

Ryan Giggs knew from the very start that his time working under Louis van Gaal would be… interesting.

Ryan Giggs spent two years as Louis van Gaal’s assistant at Old Trafford and the legendary Manchester United winger has explained what it was like working with the divisive Dutchman.

Having closed out the previous season as interim United manager when David Moyes was sacked, Giggs went to meet Van Gaal to discuss the plans for the season ahead and it was then that he became aware that he was dealing with an eccentric character.

Giggs revealed that Van Gaal didn’t hold back when he gave the Welshman a punch in the stomach as an opening greeting.

“The first time I met him he punched me in the stomach,” Giggs said on Jamie Carragher’s Greatest Game podcast, as transcribed by the Express.

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

“I’ve gone to meet him at a hotel, he’s opened the door, looked at 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 his players and he was a really good person but just very quirky.”

While Giggs was fond of Van Gaal, not everybody at United was as positive with their opinions of the former Netherlands manager.

After Van Gaal left United in 2016, Giggs was touted as a potential replacement but the job was ultimately given to Jose Mourinho, who brought his own staff with him to Old Trafford.

“There was no conversation with Jose. It was a hard two years [under Van Gaal] and I got offered a job with the younger teams,” Giggs explained.

“I just felt it was the right time to leave. It was sad but a bit of relief, I felt a bit lost like ‘what do I do now?’

“It was a difficult sort of 18 months and I had no idea of what I wanted to do.

“I took on a role in Vietnam, like a director’s role where I go over there three times a year.

“There was a bit of media work, I did the Euros and there were a few other bits to keep me busy.

“I was watching my son play football for the first time in years and I soon realised there was a life outside of football.”

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