United have landed their big-name boss – now they need a team
THE Glazers bought Manchester United nine years ago, but only now is the takeover complete. Louis van Gaal's appointment as manager was by the Glazers, for the Glazers, and brings to a close the age in which the club's American owners tiptoed around tradition.
During Alex Ferguson's long reign, the Glazers allowed the football side of England's biggest club to run itself. There was no need to impose big footballing decisions from above.
While Ferguson ran the trophy factory, the Glazers fixed their energies on servicing the club's debt by extending the commercial reach to snacks, drinks, photocopiers and tyres. Even when Ferguson stepped down a year to the day prior to Van Gaal's appointment, the decision to hire David Moyes looked like an extension of Fergie Time.
United's fans can say goodbye to all that. The rumble of shifting furniture is unmistakable. After the failed experiment with Moyes – and the disinclination to rush Ryan Giggs to the No 1 job – the Glazers have played it ultra-safe, picking a name from the slim brochure of managers with a proven ability to control the biggest clubs.
Though the appointment bears the imprint of Ed Woodward, their commercial deal-maker supreme, it also fits the business logic of trans-Atlantic owners who are ready to join the European mainstream of two-to-three year managerial cycles.
Ajax aside, in his early days, Van Gaal is not one for long stays. He imposes his will on players, fires them out of a cannon and then either falls out with people or goes hunting for new experiences. The Glazers will be happy with that.
The legacy of Matt Busby and Ferguson is not part of the new equation, except in the sense that Van Gaal, too, expects his teams to attack with a dagger between their teeth. Positivity, entertainment, charisma, authority. The Glazers have signed up to them all.
Van Gaal will have an energising effect. Now player recruitment becomes the crux. As the Glazers complete their annexation of the club by hiring a big shot, the hard part still awaits.
United have their big-name manager. Now they need a team. (© Daily Telegraph, London)