Ryan Giggs is not up to the task - Manchester United are broken so badly they need a big personality to carry out the overhaul

The size of the rebuild needed at Old Trafford is a task way beyond Manchester United's most decorated player

football correspondent

Contrary to appearances, there can be harmony when Louis van Gaal and Roy Keane stand together. It was at Lansdowne Road in 2001 that the Dutchman acknowledged the Irishman's man-of-the-match display in the 1-0 victory for his country which ended the Netherlands' hopes of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. Keane subsequently secured one vote for the World Player of the Year award – from Van Gaal.

Beyond that, the prospect of the two working in tandem at Old Trafford – a notion which grew legs after it was floated in Wednesday's Irish Examiner – does have potential to be hugely divisive. There are already doubts in the Netherlands about how Van Gaal would co-exist with Sir Alex Ferguson, having been in a state of civil war with the Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness when he left his last club management job there in 2011.

Keane has certainly put differences behind him in the past, working for the Football Association of Ireland in the past five months despite a decade lambasting the national set-up, on and off, but it will be a brave man who puts those two in charge of United together. Keane's relationship with Ferguson seems unsalvageable, given that the older man appears even less forgiving.

But while the combustible, uncompromising nature of Van Gaal calls into question the value of such a personality being front-runner to succeed David Moyes, the state United are in suggests that they will need an individual of such character.

Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre was reflecting earlier this week on how much more difficult it had been to buy elite players while out of the Champions League. You can't trade on your name, he said. "That's the reality. There is definitely a challenge." And some who were present at Manchester City in the summer of 2010 after they had only qualified for the Europa League can tell United that players will take some persuading.

City wanted to buy the Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso from Liverpool that summer, discovered he just was not interested and instead found themselves shopping for Gareth Barry, who they managed to get into a taxi from Dubai – where he was holidaying – to Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace hotel, while Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez – who also wanted Barry – wasn't looking.

United believe that the name of their great club will insulate them from shopping in downmarket stores – yet salvaging something from the wreckage of the Moyes era will entail living with the consequences of the steps taken to help him succeed. There is a view inside football that the £300,000-a-week salary United agreed to keep Wayne Rooney away from Chelsea was ludicrous: a millstone around the club's neck and something agents will use as a benchmark when United come knocking. "The agent will want 300, so the club will say 200 and they'll end up agreeing on 250," one insider observed.

Also, if the big-name players are on £250,000, the lesser ones will want £80,000. That is how it starts to play out when agents know, as they will with United, that they are dealing with a club newly eliminated from the Champions League and so desperate to make it back at the first attempt. Meanwhile, clubs will use Juan Mata's £38m transfer fee as a benchmark. United can only go for a certain marque of player, too. Things will not come cheap. United's situation resembles the one City found themselves at, five years ago.

It takes a manager capable of dropping his trousers and revealing what lies beneath – as Van Gaal once did – to hold on to a sense of value in the face of such factors. The managers just desperate to survive will not care what the cost might be to United or to chief executive, Ed Woodward, an excellent businessman and negotiator but one still finding his way in football.

United are engaged in another pressurised search to restructure the team, top to bottom, because the legacy handed on by Ferguson simply was not good. The player-recruitment systems were little less than shambolic. There was none of the five-year advance planning, with due diligence done on emerging talents from all corners of the world, which you will now find at the touch of a button at Chelsea and City – prime practitioners of the acquisition business who analyse the market to death.

The manager who took over from Ferguson was always going to struggle with that side of the inheritance. Moyes found himself handed what became known as "the black box" – a loose, unfathomable system of agreements and communications between Ferguson and his scouts. United began equipping Moyes with modernity but they have only just begun.

The size of overhaul needs a magisterial grip from someone with a big, macro picture of running a club. It is a task way beyond Ryan Giggs – despite the sense from the top of United that the chance to be manager has come just a few years too soon for him.

Van Gaal proved in the way he brought through a new generation of players at Bayern Munich five years ago that he does have that experience and capability. Sparks will fly if he becomes United's manager. There may be minimal harmony. But a big personality looks necessary to get United out of this pit and on to an upward trajectory.

Suggested Topics
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on