Manchester United’s negotiations with Louis van Gaal appeared to have last night hit a hitch relating to how Ryan Giggs would fit into the substantial entourage of staff the Dutchman may want to bring to Old Trafford.
Van Gaal left his holiday home in the Algarve on Monday with no deal secured and with a growing sense in the Netherlands that negotiations to make him David Moyes’ successor as manager had not advanced as smoothly as he had hoped – with the back-room staff the issue.
The Dutch national manager continues to put forward his case, with intermediaries insisting the 62-year-old would be able to co-exist happily with former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, because the two men share a philosophy about the development of young players.
But Van Gaal’s urgency will be fuelled by an awareness of the growing enthusiasm for Giggs to be handed the job and suggestions have emerged that it might be difficult to accommodate Giggs and the Class of ’92 members he has gathered together into a new set-up.
United’s chief executive, Ed Woodward, who wants an experienced manager rather than Giggs to succeed Moyes, is not willing to impose the 40-year-old on Moyes’ successor, with Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti another United have in mind.
But the club is aware that alienating and losing Giggs risks breaking with a past which is an important part of the United brand.
United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard has added to the clamour for Giggs’ installation as the club’s new manager by declaring that “we are dealing with a new Guardiola” and praising the 40-year-old’s “spine-tingling” pep talk before the club’s most emphatic win of the season, at the weekend.
Lindegaard said: “The parallels with Sir Alex are striking, and it is clear that Ryan has been learning from history’s most awe-inspiring football manager. His last speech before the team went on the pitch before the match against Norwich, was spine-tingling in a way that I have only experienced from Sir Alex.
“He said: ‘Don’t let the fans down’. Some might question whether someone can go from being a team-mate to the manager from one day to the next. Normally, I have my reservations, but in Giggs’ case, it is different.
“He spoke when he needed to and people have always listened. What we have seen the first week has been more than convincing.
“It probably sounds rather naive and impetuous, and I understand people’s scepticism about any conclusion drawn, but to me we are dealing with a new [Pep] Guardiola. The question is whether he is ready to meet the enormous potential he possesses. Fortunately, it’s not my decision to make, but 100 per cent the club’s. And whatever the club decides, I’m sure that everyone in and around the team will respect it.”
Van Gaal had indicated that he would like Roy Keane as part of his back-room staff, though that prospect receded on Monday when the 42-year-old, currently Martin O’Neill’s assistant in the Republic of Ireland set-up, said he would “probably not” talk to Ferguson again – nine years after their dispute led to him leaving the club.
Giggs who – contrary to comments after the 4-0 win over Norwich City – gave the players a day off on Sunday, hopes that the striker Robin van Persie, a symbol of former United manager David Moyes’ struggle to motivate players, will be fit to face Sunderland on Saturday.
Van Persie’s return to Manchester on Thursday, three days after Moyes’ dismissal, reflects the players’ new-found enthusiasm to play for Giggs.