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Van Gaal puts past behind him

Louis van Gaal today pledged to learn from his past mistakes as he returns to FC Barcelona.

Louis van Gaal today pledged to learn from his past mistakes as he returned to the Camp Nou for his second spell as coach of FC Barcelona.

Plea for support
"I am aware that not everyone is happy with my return, but I have learned from my last period at the club and know that there are certain areas in which I have to improve," the Dutchman told a packed news conference in Barcelona. "I know that it is a very difficult challenge, but I ask all those connected to the club to lend me their support because we are all in the same boat and we all want the best for Barcelona," he continued.

No decisions yet
When asked about the future of Brazilian forward Rivaldo at the club, van Gaal made it clear that he would not be making any decisions about the squad until he had spoken with former coach Carles Rexach, who will be returning to former post as technical director. "We can make a great team here at Barcelona, and with the support of the players, fans, directors and press we will do that and the results will follow," he said.

First spell
The former AFC Ajax coach's first spell at Barcelona between 1997 and 2000 saw the club win two league titles, but it was also marked by rows with high-profile players and relentless criticism from media and fans. Van Gaal had signed a two-year contract extension in his final season but he opted to quit after the departure of president Josep Lluis Nuñez, who had stuck by him despite his unpopularity.

Gaspart comments
The current Barcelona president Joan Gaspart said he was convinced that those who doubted the wisdom of Van Gaal's return to the club would soon change their opinion. "Louis van Gaal is a great coach who know the club perfectly and understands what it represents to its fans," he said. "I hope that those who have voiced their disagreement with his return will quickly realise that we have made the right decision."