Giggs hails Louis Van Gaal as the new Alex Ferguson
Old Trafford legend not surprised that Dutch master has put old swagger back into United
Published 25/07/2014 | 02:30
It was when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored an injury-time winner for Holland against Mexico, moments after being introduced as a substitute during a World Cup second-round tie in Brazil, that Ryan Giggs knew the real Manchester United would return under Louis van Gaal.
A bold substitution, made by a manager going for broke, and a winning goal to cap a late fightback when the game had seemed lost. It struck a chord with a man accustomed to similar drama under Alex Ferguson.
Having already sat face to face with Van Gaal in Holland prior to the World Cup, Giggs had experienced the straight-talking, decisive nature of the 62-year-old before watching from afar as the Dutch progressed to the semi-finals in Brazil and he admits that the similarities with Ferguson were unavoidable.
"Yes, I do see similarities," Giggs said. "They both have an aura about them, but that comes from the success they have had.
"They demand that the players respond and they demand respect. In the short space of time I have worked with Louis, you can see why he has been a success. He is infectious.
"Did the Mexico game at the World Cup remind me of anything? Yes, because we are also a team who historically never give up. I think that's down to mentality, it's down to fitness and it's down to the decision-making.
"If he can bring on a sub who changes a game – like Huntelaar in that game – that's down to good decision-making and it is what makes top managers. If it had gone wrong, he would have had to face the consequences, but he fully backed his decision-making and that what he was doing was right.
"That's what you've got to do.
"You have to do that if you are manager of Manchester United. You have to make decisions and you have to put them into practice like that."
As Giggs discussed the qualities Van Gaal has displayed since his appointment as United manager, the elephant in the room was the inescapable figure of David Moyes, who was unable to rise to the challenge of succeeding Ferguson 12 months ago.
Where Van Gaal is strong, Moyes was perceived to be weak, with indecision, caution and a lack of trophy-winning credentials ultimately costing the Scot the backing of the board and the dressing room.
Giggs, a peripheral figure under Moyes, is too diplomatic to join the dots by suggesting that United now possess the manager they really needed a year ago.
But the mood among the club's 153-strong touring party in the United States tells its own story about the optimism and belief which has returned under Van Gaal.
Where there were rolled eyes and exasperated shakes of the head from staff and players alike last summer as Moyes grappled with the job, there are now beaming smiles and a sense that United have their swagger back – a belief strengthened by the manner of the 7-0 victory against LA Galaxy in Pasadena in Van Gaal's first game in charge.
And on the training pitch, where Van Gaal is a powerful presence, there is a clear sense that the players are determined to impress their new manager rather than waiting for him to impress them.
Giggs said: "He wants everything right from the first minute of training to the last. Everything we are working from is the blueprint he sent over from the World Cup, every minute of every session is laid down.
"Just everything he does is clear and everyone gets it straight away. He has a unique way of putting it over. If you make a mistake he will tell you and if you do something good he will tell you.
"You know what you are doing wrong and you know what you are doing right. He makes no bones about who you are. It is perhaps a little bit different to what the players are used to, but it's a different manager with different ideas and a different philosophy."
Van Gaal's heavy emphasis on ball work, urging players to work on their weaker foot, has been a central component and Giggs (below) believes the approach is already bearing fruit.
"We have done a lot with the ball and worked on disguised running," Giggs said. "It's different, but this is a philosophy the manager believes in and he has had a lot of success with it. A lot of it is very simple, but it's interesting to see the lads who started pre-season training and those who returned a bit later following the World Cup.
"It's new to the World Cup lads, but the others have been doing it for 10 days. You would argue that the quality of the World Cup players should be a lot better, but those who have been doing it longer are better." Giggs admits, however, that Van Gaal will expect the senior figures in the squad to coax the best out of their younger team-mates.
"There is a big onus on the likes of Wayne (Rooney), Robin (van Persie), Michael Carrick, Fletch (Darren Fletcher)," Giggs said.
"We've also got the likes of myself who can help the younger players and I've told them that – especially if they need to speak to anyone.
"If they don't want to speak to the manager, they can speak to me. But it's Louis' philosophy to play young players. He has been impressed by the quality of the young players and it's a chance for them." (© Daily Telegraph, London)