David Moyes was sacked on Tuesday morning after Manchester United’s worst season since the Premier League was created. Player-coach Ryan Giggs, 40, was named interim manager but is not expected to be considered for the permanent job at the end of the season.
Before Moyes’ sacking, Van Gaal was joint favourite with Borussia Dortmund’s Juergen Klopp, who has since ruled himself out of the running. Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola also refuted claims he would be in line for a shock switch only one season after joining the Bundesliga champions.
As a result, Van Gaal – the former Bayern, Barcelona, Ajax and AZ coach – has shot to the top of the bookmakers’ lists, with most listing him as evens or odds-on to get the job after his Netherlands contract expires following the World Cup.
Meanwhile, the odds on other candidates are lengthening rapidly – second favourite Klopp is down to 10/1 with some bookies, although Jose Mourinho has shortened from 40/1 to anything as low as 12/1. Unlikely, given United snubbed him first time round.
Everything, however, points to Van Gaal.
With United set to pay Moyes around £5m in compensation, Van Gaal’s freedom of contract would soften the economic blow of sacking the Scot. The Dutchman is also a renowned disciplinarian, a strong character who takes complete control of the dressing room, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Moyes floundered under pressure, but Van Gaal has been there, won it, and got the t-shirt. Klopp was the fan choice – Guardiola was never a realistic option – but he is devoted to Dortmund and genuinely believes he can turn them into Germany’s no.1 team. Had Klopp not rejected the idea out of hand it may be different, but right now Van Gaal – who is openly courting a Premier League job – seems a no-brainer.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
United will begin negotiations with Van Gaal in the coming weeks, with the 62-year-old reportedly putting his feet up in his Portuguese holiday home ahead of the World Cup. Ideally they will have him on board sooner rather than later, as it would allow him to establish a backroom team to set things up for pre-season, not to mention identifying and contacting transfer targets before, during and after the summer showpiece in Brazil. Fans would do well to remember that these things take longer in real life than they do in computer games, with staffing negotiations a contractual minefield.
WHAT THE MEDIA SAID
Louise Taylor (The Guardian): Significantly, Van Gaal often succeeds best with younger professionals. Some fear this "genius" coach's often less than subtle man-management may be too blunt for sensitive British footballers but the CV of a man who, before joining Bayern, locked himself away in a monastery in order to swiftly learn German, demands instant respect. Any relationship with Wayne Rooney looks potentially turbulent but could keep his compatriot Robin van Persie content.
John Cross (The Mirror): A good contact assures me it's Louis van Gaal next. I'm not sure it's the right choice. The elder statesman, a figurehead and someone looking for one last big pay day. When I cornered him at the Euro 2016 draw in February, he made it clear he wanted a job in the Premier League. I'd go for a younger man, in their 40s, in keeping with the trend of Rodgers, Martinez, Klopp. Ferguson was older and yet, by all accounts, the best delegator in the business. Had the right man, member of staff or assistant for every task. But maybe the way forward and the trend for long term success is go younger not older. Their biggest mistake was not going for Jose Mourinho last summer.
WHAT THE FANS SAY
Christopher (Eurosport-Yahoo! user): Well it'll be interesting now, usually next season’s transfer targets are approached May/June but with the World Cup coming up you'd think clubs would be starting dialogue now - who's going to do that if they don't have a manager? And while Van Gaal is certainly talented he's hardly one for the next 10 years is he? Strange decision by United sacking a manager with 3 games left of the season, a massive rebuild needed and an apparent new manager held up with the World Cup until early July.
mihalacche (Eurosport mobile app user): Van Gaal would be the worst appointment. He hasn't achieved anything for a very long time, he is old and he would prove another lost year for Man U. I think that the following would be good choices: 1. Guardiola, if he quits Bayern, in case he doesn't win Ch League. 2. Klopp, although it is very difficult to lure him into this position. 3. Simeone, he may be interested in a bigger team, with a future stability period ahead, and with the right sum of money, of course. He may be the most probable to accept the job. 4. Martinez. Although it would be quite risky a second manager from the same club, Martinez has proved he is a quality trainer, both at Wigan and at Everton. Pleasant performance, strong squads, good defence, he will be one of the best coaches in the world one day, it is rather him than van Gaal. 5. Pochettino, another young promising young coach, with a pleasant style of play, he can build something for the future. 6. Jupp Heynckes. He may be the best solution for the time being. Right here, right now, a builder of teams who can be convinced to take over. Man U should repeat what Bayern did. Keep Heynckes for a short period, and sign a trainer with potential, like Klopp or Guardiola, after one or two years, when they become available.
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