It came as no surprise to the football world when it was announced by the Manchester United hierarchy that Dutchman Louis Van Gaal was to become their new manager with Ryan Giggs acting as his assistant. There had been so much speculation about his arrival since the departure of David Moyes, that the only mystery surrounds the actual delay in confirming the appointment. Now that Van Gaal has been installed as manager, consideration must be given as to whether this is a footballing or political manoeuvre.
At the age of 62, Van Gaal has a fair amount of experience in a managerial role having won the national titles in Netherlands, Spain and Germany yet apart from his stints in his native Holland there has been no degree of longevity in his roles at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. His authoritarian approach has often produced a fair share of enemies in foreign countries.
Nevertheless his passion for firm discipline is a trait which endeared him to the Manchester United hierarchy as they sought a candidate in a similar mould to the now retired Sir Alex Ferguson. It can also be viewed as an appointment which will appease the United shareholders after the Glazier family initiated a partial float of the club on the New York stock exchange in 2012. The share price slumped alarmingly during the reign of Moyes and an experienced but successful replacement candidate was needed to avert unrest among the investors, and preserve the global brand of the club.
With the arrival of Van Gaal and the instalment of Giggs as his assistant, Manchester United now have the so-called perfect combination of a dominant figure at the head of affairs with a sense of continuity arising from the successful reign of Ferguson. In theory that appears to be the ideal scenario in the wake of turmoil apparently prevalent during the Moyes era.
However, Van Gaal is still manager of the Netherlands with a World Cup impending and so his contribution to the rebuild at Manchester United in the next few weeks must be questionable. It has been suggested that a list of players has already been received by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward with the name of Bayern Munich winger and acquaintance Arjen Robben featuring as a priority.
Although Van Gaal will be in direct contact with Robben in Brazil, his main thoughts for the foreseeable future will be plotting the course through Group B for the Netherlands team and any further matches thereafter. It appears that Woodward will oversee any new signings during that time with Giggs controlling pre-season training for those players not involved in World Cup duty.
According to press reports, Van Gaal has stated that he will not need a holiday before assuming his full-time duties at Old Trafford but the United hierarchy may insist upon a break so that the new manager is fully refreshed for the demands of a long Premier League season.
It will be an interesting few weeks at Old Trafford and an even more fascinating season awaits but for now the stability and security demanded by shareholders appears to have been safeguarded.
Latest posts by John Welsh (see all)
- The Premier League title destination remains uncertain in an unpredictable season to date - December 31, 2015
- England win opening test as South African batting frailties are exposed - December 30, 2015
- Cue Card and Sprinter Sacre erase the nightmares of their miserable 2013 Christmas - December 29, 2015