Manchester United manager latest: Louis van Gaal waits in the wings, but for now United look like Ryan Giggs’s club

Kluivert drops heavy hint about future Old Trafford role

Louis van Gaal’s henchmen were busily positioning him as the next Manchester United manager on Saturday evening. “If he asks me to join him I would be honoured to be at his side – it doesn’t matter what club,” said Patrick Kluivert, Van Gaal’s Dutch national team assistant, who might very likely be “at his side” at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal will have sanctioned Kluivert going on British radio to say that, though the mid-evening picture at Old Trafford revealed that the Dutch general will be walking in on someone else’s club when – and his desire to do so is becoming manifestly more desperate by the day – he moves in.

The scene after the 4-0 win over Norwich City told that the old firm has been restored at Old Trafford. It included Wayne Rooney laughing as his four-year-old, Kai, nutmegged him in the six-yard box in front of the Stretford End and Sir Alex Ferguson beaming as his chauffeur-driven car stopped for autograph-hunters at 9.30pm. If United chief executive Ed Woodward does not get Van Gaal installed rapidly, the new manager may feel he has to annex the place.

Giggs is certainly not dispelling the idea that a bandwagon may be rolling by the time United’s last three Premier League games – against Sunderland, Hull City and Southampton – have been wrapped up. “I’ll deal with that hopefully if I’ve got four wins; I’ll deal with it then,” he said in a back corridor of Old Trafford late on Saturday.

Read more: Manchester United 4 Norwich 0 match report
Giggs is up to the United job, says Rooney

There was an admission from Giggs that experience counts against him. “Yeah, that’s right. I’ve said that. I’m outside my comfort zone and I’ve quickly had to do so many things that I’ve never done before,” he observed, but that was diplomacy talking. Saturday’s result, against a Norwich side who faded worryingly after an enterprising first 40 minutes, was secondary in significance to Giggs’s capacity to rouse his players at half-time.

Louis van Gaal together with Robin van Persie Louis van Gaal together with Robin van Persie  

He joked that he had given the players the hairdryer at “medium” strength at the interval. “I just said quicken up the tempo and it’ll be OK.” But the transformation suggested that with powers of motivation and emotional intelligence, football management need not be a deeply complex business.

The success of Brendan Rodgers – a manager only 11 months Giggs’s senior – has demonstrated that effective man-management can be a substitute for haemorrhaging money in the transfer market and it was revealing that the Northern Irishman was a reference point for Giggs when he explained that this squad really is strong enough to achieve.

Despite Chelsea and Manchester City commanding far greater resources than United, it will not take more than one transfer window to catch them up, Giggs said. “I don’t think it will. We won the league last year, the year before we lost it on goal difference, the year before that we won it. Liverpool – what did they come last year, seventh? – who would have said they’d be where they are this year, so a lot can change. We’ve certainly got the players. We’ve got everything in place to have a successful season next year.” Patrick Kluivert ‘would be honoured’ to be at Louis van Gaal’s side in Manchester Patrick Kluivert ‘would be honoured’ to be at Louis van Gaal’s side in Manchester

Some of the giants of the Ferguson era will leave this summer, but Giggs insisted that United could be back in the title race immediately even without Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. “I’m confident that the players are at the club that can challenge next year,” he said. “Obviously the lads at Liverpool have improved and other teams around us have improved so it won’t be easy. But I’m confident that we have got the players.”

Though putting on another striker at 3-0 up spoke volumes for his philosophy, nothing should erase Saturday’s evidence that the future will not be as elementary as Giggs makes out. Norwich’s capitulation contributed much to masking the sense, manifest in the first half, that United lack a creative edge, though Giggs indicated that Tom Cleverley’s early substitution was simply a consequence of the fact that he “hadn’t played for quite a while”.

Giggs is fortunate to have an easy sequence of fixtures with his players motivated in the way a squad always is at a time like this. “It’s always natural, when you change a coaching team, that the intensity goes up because everyone wants to impress and everyone wants to play the first game under the new manager,” Ferdinand reflected.

A detailed dissection of his dismissal from David Moyes’ perspective, written by one who is close to him, revealed yesterday that some players – Rooney, Adnan Januzaj and Darren Fletcher – do feel they owe him a debt. But his 10-month reign feels like old history. It will require a strong man to walk in and take over Old Trafford.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam