Louis van Gaal has angrily denied any suggestion of a rift with his assistant manager, Ryan Giggs. In a rare display of temper during a press conference, the Manchester United manager said he was irritated by a question about the pair’s relationship.
The question was raised because Paul Scholes, who has known Giggs for 20 years, said he would be looking to leave Old Trafford before Van Gaal’s three-year contract at Manchester United was up, to manage on his own.
When Ashley Young scored United’s late winner at Newcastle on Wednesday night, Van Gaal leapt up, went over to Giggs and punched the air with his fist. Giggs stood motionless and stony-faced.
“I am very irritated by this question,” said Van Gaal. “Everyone can see we have a very good relationship. We work very hard together, not only Ryan but all the staff and players. It [that question] is a way of suggesting things and I take my message against the media. I am not pleased.”
It would be folly to base a study of the relationship between Van Gaal and Giggs on such a brief incident. Van Gaal has enjoyed a good relationship with his No 2s – Jose Mourinho described his time under Van Gaal at Barcelona as “a fantastic experience”.
At Bayern Munich he employed the man who is now Arsenal’s academy director, Andries Jonker, who was one of his proteges when Van Gaal was Dutch national coach. The men shared a similar philosophy, though when Van Gaal was sacked in April 2011 and Jonker took over at the Allianz Arena, Arjen Robben said: “The joy has returned to games and also to training”.
Giggs, who managed United after David Moyes’ dismissal, was not appointed by Van Gaal but was imposed on him. Giggs has told friends he has learned a lot from the Dutchman. His main duty is to prepare reports on opponents and give a presentation before matches. Whether this will be enough while Van Gaal is reshaping Manchester United only time will tell.