Louis van Gaal still looks likely take over at Manchester United following this summer’s World Cup. The only stumbling block is reportedly the Dutchman’s insistence on bringing in five of his own backroom staff, something that would push the interim ‘Class of ’92′ staff down the pecking order. Ryan Giggs, at this point, looks like he may have a place.
It appears, at least, to be the most sensible appointment. For all the undeniable romance that swirled around his debut as interim manager against Norwich, and despite his endorsement by Sir Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs would represent a considerable gamble for the United board after the last one backfired so spectacularly. Giggs, however successful he has been as a player for United, however much he represents and understands the attacking instincts of the club and however attentively he listened to Ferguson, remains completely unproven as a manager. But his time will come.
The fact that Van Gaal was simply more available than Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp and Diego Simeone was dominant factor in their consideration. He’ll be busy over the summer of course. But getting their man and simply having to wait a little while to put him to work seems to be the preferred option of a Fabregas-style pursuit of the other three.
On paper the attraction of Van Gaal isn’t difficult to see; he is a vastly experienced serial winner with a personal cabinet overflowing with trophies: four Eredivisie titles with Ajax and AZ, two La Liga titles and a Bundesliga to name a few. 10 months down the line Manchester United have now realised they require a manager for whom winning has become a habit, as it did for Ferguson.
Moyes fell down here. But not only did he seem overawed by the scale of the job, Moyes struggled enormously with player-power – Van Gaal’s history shows he simply will not tolerate this. It is impossible to imagine, for example, Van Gaal tolerating the open rebellion displayed by Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand during Moyes’s tenure. At United Ferguson barely tolerated such dissent. When Rio Ferdinand decided not to wear the anti-racist Kick It Out campaign’s t-shirt, for example, Ferguson said publicly he had embarrassed the club and added ominously that the club would “deal with it.” Ferdinand wore the shirt.
Van Gaal is cut from a similar cloth. Like Ferguson, he has created enemies for himself with his ego-centric style, though with added dose of eccentricity – it’s unlikely for instance that Ferguson ever dropped his trousers to get his point across, as the Dutchman did at Bayern Munich. But he will not tolerate dissent nor surely will he countenance the idea of Wayne Rooney being consulted on transfers, a ridiculous idea in the first place.
The 62-year-old’s preferred footballing style will also be an attractive prospect. Against Norwich the aggressive chanting of “Attack! Attack! Attack!” from the United faithful could be heard after 10 seconds and reflected the distaste for defensive turgidity that became so dispiriting at Old Trafford. Van Gaal prefers the short-passing and flowing attacking football that is associated with Ferguson’s 26-year reign.
United’s stale performances against Sunderland and Southampton might have alarmed those who placed the blame for the season solely at the door of David Moyes. It is a thunderbolt that the squad need in the dressing room and whilst Ryan Giggs may have a future at Old Trafford, van Gaal should be the one to provide it next season.