The emphatic claims emanating from Holland that Louis van Gaal is to be the next Manchester United manager not only come from credible sources but represent a logical move.
an Gaal would be a fit for the profile of manager that United are determined to hire following the dismissal of David Moyes. It is clear that the 62-year-old, who leaves his post as Dutch coach when their World Cup campaign ends this summer, is pushing hard and trying to force this issue, although United are publicly and privately adamant that a shortlist will be drawn up and 'due diligence’ carried out on more than one candidate.
Van Gaal has spoken to Tottenham Hotspur, who now appear resigned to the fact that he will go to United or elsewhere, although the suggestion that he held talks with a United delegation in Portugal this week appear unlikely. If there was a delegation it did not include United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who is leading the search for a new manager. He remained in England.
The story that Van Gaal has already been offered the job jarred on several fronts, not least the suggestion that there was no pressure from United for him to take someone like Ryan Giggs onto his backroom staff. De Telegraaf claimed Van Gaal would bring Patrick Kluivert as his assistant, alongside goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek, a psychologist and a video analyst, but United are insistent they want a “thread of continuity”.
What is beyond doubt is that Van Gaal wants to come to the Premier League, and certainly wants the United job. That much was evident during the Football Writers’ Association tribute dinner to honour Jose Mourinho in London earlier this year when he was a special guest.
Van Gaal and his wife, Truus, spoke effusively of how much they wanted to move to England and that he would like to take over a club in London. And if one in the capital were not suitable or available, it would have to be a “big club”. They do not come any bigger than United.
Van Gaal’s CV, personality, confidence and style of football tick all the boxes for United, as does his ready availability – a point which arguably gives him an edge over other leading candidates such as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho.
The Chelsea manager has strongly denied he would be interested but rumours persist that his name might just be in the reckoning if he shows signs of unrest at Stamford Bridge or, indeed, there is dissatisfaction from the club’s hierarchy.
United have strongly ruled out Giggs as a long-term option but that may be a case of watch this space.
A dream ticket of Giggs alongside an experienced coach – Rene Meuelensteen, perhaps, or even Carlos Queiroz – does hold some logic but so does the notion of someone such as Van Gaal, or even Ancelotti, working above the Welshman and grooming him as an eventual successor. It would not faze either man and Van Gaal has performed a similar role before at other clubs.
Ultimately, United’s main priority is the here and now. The new manager will be asked to bring immediate success. It is not about building for the future.
The club will carry out their analysis; they will consult and check contractual situations and Sir Alex Ferguson and former chief executive David Gill will also be involved in that process.
They are also aware that the United job has become a more attractive proposition than last summer, given the free run a new manager would have at it, the £200m transfer budget and not being Ferguson’s immediate successor.
United are insisting on a minimum level of experience and a commitment to attacking football. That would fit Van Gaal.
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