Louis van Gaal could be announced as the new Manchester United manager in the next 48 hours, according to reports. The Dutchman has made no secret of his desire to manage the Premier League champions, having turned down the Tottenham Hotspur role after initially agreeing to take it on from next season.
Following close to two weeks of negotiations with the Netherlands boss, United are expected to issue a statement confirming that the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has been appointed. Interim manager Ryan Giggs will stay in charge of United until the end of the season as van Gaal prepares his Dutch side for the World Cup finals in Brazil. Although Giggs’ will stand down in the summer, he is expected to be handed a coaching role by the incoming manager. Giggs was seen as a serious contender for the big job and did his chances no harm with a 4-0 victory at home to Norwich City in his first game in charge. However, a 1-0 home defeat to Sunderland at the weekend made for more sober viewing.
Van Gaal is expected to bring former Netherlands international Patrick Kluivert as his assistant. Kluivert has Premier League experience following a spell at Newcastle United. However, he is better-known for his time at Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona. Kluivert’s appointment will be seen as controversial by some. In 1995, he was found guilty of manslaughter after he was involved in a car crash which killed a theater director. He was handed a driving ban and 240 hours of community service – the punishment was criticized by Dutch press as being far too lenient. A year later, a woman accused Kluivert of rape but it was never proven. Nevertheless, the two controversies saw him exit Ajax.
It is understood van Gaal has already earmarked a host of players he wants to bring to Old Trafford. Bayern duo Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller are among some of the names mentioned. If van Gaal is announced as the new Manchester United manager in the next 48 hours, he will need to begin work on signing new names as he will be out of action during the World Cup. He will also be keen to sign players before the tournament when they are free to talk and before their value increases.
If van Gaal does get the nod in the next 48 hours, he will become the first ever non-British or Irish manager at United – a massive departure for a club that has always been keen to either appoint from within the club or go for homegrown managers. When United announced the departure of previous manager David Moyes last month, it was seen by many as bad news for British managers, with only a handful now managing in the Premier League.
Former United captain and now Hull City boss Steven Bruce said van Gaal has a massive rebuilding job to do at Old Trafford but the absence of European football next season is more likely to help United than hinder them. One game a week rather than two has helped Liverpool mount a serious title challenge this season and United will be using that to their advantage next season. If van Gaal is announced as the new United boss, his rebuilding work could start in the next 48 hours.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd