Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick will miss the opening two months of the season after ankle surgery, the club confirmed.
Carrick faces 10 to 12 weeks on the sideline after injuring ligaments in his left ankle in training this week. He had the operation on Thursday.
New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal suggested Carrick's injury was "a big blow," while also denying his public image as a demanding boss.
"Michael Carrick was injured a few days ago and that is a big blow because he is an experienced player," said Van Gaal. "It is very important to have experienced player, not only in age, not only in football experience, but also as a human being. My philosophy is not only as football player, but in total."
Van Gaal also said his image as a dictatorial figure is not justified, insisting he has been "empathetic" to all footballers he has worked with during his decorated coaching career.
The Dutch manager has long been hailed as one of the most confident tacticians in world football, yet he did his best to distance himself from a negative image that he claims has been spun by the media.
When quizzed on whether the image he brings with him to Old Trafford is justified, he raised his voice to denounce the caricature of his personality.
"It is unfair," said Van Gaal. "I am democratic. I am an empathetic to human being. Of course I have a strong personality, but the other characteristics are more important. That's the key of my personality.
"The media wants to show that part of the personality, but that part is like this [small]. When you repeat [the same stories], everyone thinks like that. I have a strong philosophy and every year I have changed, it has confirmed this philosophy.
"From the age of 39, I was head coach of Ajax Amsterdam and until now, the personality has not changed. Autocratic and strong personality is not the same. It is not the same. I have a strong philosophy. Every year I train, it is confirming that philosophy."
Van Gaal then went on to compare his attributes to legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who he claimed to be relishing the chance to spend some time with now that he has inherited his old job.
"Sir Alex has a strong philosophy and he was always confirming that because he won a lot of trophies with Manchester United. I hope to start following that," stated Van Gaal, before talking about the contact he has had with Ferguson in his brief time as Old Trafford chief.
"He called me to congratulate me. We have spoke about a cup of coffee or to eat or drink with each other. We were always invited to the elite forum with UEFA and we always finish with a glass of wine. I can drink coffee and drink wine with him. Maybe better wine than I can imagine."
When asked what he considered success would be in his first season as United boss, he stopped short of predicting title success, even though that was clearly on his mind.
"For me, the challenge is to be first and not fourth, but when you have to analyse after once season, it depends on the click between the manager/coach," he added.
"First, we have to see how the players perform to my philosophy and how quickly they can pick up this philosophy. Then I can answer [what is success], but I haven't worked with most of them. We have wait to see if there is a click between the players and the manager."
Van Gaal also heaped praise on Old Trafford icon Sir Bobby Charlton, who led him into the room as he spoke to the media for the first time.
"First of all I want to thank Sir Bobby Charlton," declared Van Gaal. "It's a great honour to come into this stadium and to be guided by Sir Bobby Charlton my first steps. I was very proud to do that with Sir Bobby Charlton.
"I know what he means to Manchester United and to English football and it was a great honour to do it with him."