Sport Soccer

Thursday 12 December 2019

Van Gaal deal hits roadblock

Holland coach's demands put Ancelotti back in United frame

Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal
Ryan Giggs of Manchester United walks to the dug out during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Norwich City
Goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard of Manchester United acknowledges the crowd

Mark Ogden

Louis van Gaal's determination to appoint up to five coaches to his backroom staff at Manchester United is threatening to pave the way for Carlo Ancelotti to become the front-runner for the manager's job at Old Trafford.

Despite an insistence from senior figures at United that no deal has been reached with Holland coach Van Gaal to succeed the sacked David Moyes, it is understood that the 62-year-old has held detailed talks with the club over the managerial vacancy.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has drawn a shortlist of candidates, which includes Van Gaal, Ancelotti and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone, with Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp yet to be fully ruled out following ambiguous comments by the German when asked about the role last week.

Van Gaal is the front-runner due to his availability once Holland's World Cup campaign ends this summer, but while personal terms are not regarded as a stumbling block, the Dutchman's determination to install a number of handpicked coaches and analysts is a cause for concern within the United hierarchy.

Woodward has made it clear that he wants a 'thread of continuity' that would see the likes of Ryan Giggs, currently acting as interim manager, retained in some capacity.

While Giggs' future involvement is not set in stone, there is a desire at United for the Welshman or fellow Class of '92 members Phil Neville, Nicky Butt or Paul Scholes to have some role under a new regime.

However, Van Gaal has made United aware that he is keen to take Holland assistants Patrick Kluivert and Danny Blind to Old Trafford, with roles also set aside for goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek, physiotherapist Jos van Dijk and analyst Max Reekers.

Such an influx of staff would leave Giggs and his interim regime some way down the pecking order at United and increase the likelihood of the group becoming disenchanted with their potential positions.

With Real Madrid facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final tonight, there is a sense at United that Real coach Ancelotti could become available should the Spanish club be eliminated in the Allianz Arena.

Such a development would harm Van Gaal's prospects and leave United with a less problematic route to appointing the former Chelsea manager as Moyes' successor.

Giggs delivered the most "spine-tingling team talk" since Alex Ferguson ahead of Saturday's 4-0 win over Norwich and has the potential to become a "new Pep Guardiola", according to goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.

Having been named as interim manager at United following the sacking of David Moyes, Giggs began his temporary reign in charge with a 4-0 home win against Norwich City at the weekend.

The victory, and the manner of United's attacking performance, has led to the 40-year-old emerging as an outsider to succeed Moyes on a permanent basis.

Van Gaal and Ancelotti remain the leading candidates to land the United job, but Giggs has growing support from within the club and the dressing-room.

Lindegaard, David de Gea's goalkeeping understudy at Old Trafford, insisted that Giggs possessed all of the credentials required to take on the job.

"Ryan Giggs has always held a kind of professional distance to his team-mates," Lindegaard said. "He opened his mouth, when it was relevant, and people have always listened.

"What we have seen in the first week has been more than convincing and the parallels with Alex Ferguson are striking. It is clear that Ryan Giggs has been learning from history's most awe-inspiring football manager.

"His last speech before the team went on the pitch before the match against Norwich was spine-tingling in a way that I have only experienced from Sir Alex. He said: 'Don't let the crowd down!'

"Some might question whether it can work to go from being a team-mate to the manager. Normally, I have my reservations, but in Giggs' case, it is another matter."

At 40, Giggs is three years older than Bayern Munich coach Guardiola when he assumed the manager's job at Barcelona in 2008. Guardiola had the experience of coaching Barcelona's second team for a year before he succeeded Frank Rijkaard.

Guardiola is regarded as one of the world's best, but Lindegaard believes that Giggs possesses the same qualities.

"It probably sounds rather naive and impetuous, and I understand people's scepticism about any conclusion drawn from the results of four workouts, a game and a day off, but to me, we are dealing with a new Guardiola," Lindegaard said.

Van Gaal has emerged as the front-runner and is understood to be considering a role for Roy Keane should he be appointed. Keane remains at loggerheads with Ferguson, with the two men still engaged in a long-running feud.

When asked whether there would be a time when he spoke to Ferguson again, Keane said: "Not sure, probably not but I've said that about other people."

Meanwhile, Robin van Persie has returned to training after five weeks out with a knee injury and could feature against Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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