Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is the favourite to take over as Manchester United manager, but interim boss Ryan Giggs will be the direct beneficiary should the Dutch master take the post.
Manchester United legend Roy Keane has ruled himself out of the running to take up the assistant manager’s position at Old Trafford, and with van Gaal’s track record of keeping club veterans on board in his backroom staff, one would have to make an educated guess that Giggs will be the most likely candidate to be his right hand man.
As I discussed last week, Van Gaal’s preference is to have as many players in the team as possible that have been brought through the club’s academy. This has been his philosophy at Ajax, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich where his legacy can be seen most evidently. Manchester United have a strong and successful history of bringing through the ranks some of Britain’s most gifted professionals; incidentally, Giggs would be the prime example of that continuity from the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
When David Moyes took charge last June, he let go of some of the club’s coaching staff, which some reports have suggested the elder Scot was less than impressed by, opting to bring in his own coaching staff from Everton. However, Van Gaal has a record of utilising the staff already at the club, especially those with a good knowledge of the youth squads, in order to advise him and influence his understanding of the players available to him.
It makes perfect sense and it is a strategy that has served the Dutch coach exceptionally well over the years; and I would expect him to repeat that strategy should he be appointed the new manager. What is more exciting is that Giggs can then develop his coaching philosophy under the 62-year-old and between Van Gaal and Ferguson, the 40-year-old Welshman will have two of the finest managers in the history of the game to draw on as inspiration.
Van Gaal has never stayed in a coaching position for longer than four years, but what he achieves and implements in that period leaves his mark on the clubs he has been charged with, certainly for the better.
If he comes in, Giggs will have the ideal grounding to learn from one of the world’s best practitioners and tacticians, which will only serve to enrich him for the future, when I would expect he will be a viable candidate to take the job on a permanent basis. In many ways, the arrival of Van Gaal could be the making of Giggs’ managerial career at United as his apprentice.