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
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before