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?
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?