Louis Van Gaal
1. Van Gaal will crack some heads together - but that's just what United need
Louis van Gaal's football reputation is very, very good. As for the stories of his arrogance, and the trouble he causes? Well, everybody knows about this other side of him. But in most ways it won't actually matter: he's only a short-term manager. United know Van Gaal never lasts long anywhere, but wherever he does go he brings success. And at this moment that's exactly what United need: someone to turn things round, to get them back as a top-four club, back in the Champions League.
His reputation will help him as well: he's been the manager at Barcelona, at Ajax, at Bayern Munich, so he knows all about running a club that's a global brand. He knows how important the person at the helm is at those types of clubs, and he'll know exactly how to conduct himself as the manager.
At the moment Manchester United need organisation, they need discipline, they need someone who's ruthless in his thinking about personnel.
That's exactly what Sir Alex was like - he was always very, very ruthless in what he did. He had to be that way, because to win things you have to make big, hard decisions. Decisions like telling Bryan Robson you're not going to play him any more; to tell Steve Bruce he's leaving; to let Ruud Van Nistelrooy go; to say to Paul Ince, sure you can go to Inter Milan, I'm not bothered; to tell David Beckham in 2003 you can go to Real Madrid. Every single time he did that the club went on and won, winning doubles, Champions Leagues.
It's being ruthless in knowing what's best for the team, for the club. And United need something like that again.
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2. Wayne Rooney will shut up and get on with being a great striker again - or else he'll clear off
All the reports are that Rooney's not happy that he won't be captain, won't be the number one striker, won't have the control he had under David Moyes. It's coming across in the press like a schoolboy argument in the playground - like he's going to take his ball and head off because he's not winning.
But who's going to win the battle, long term? The winner has to be Manchester United, and if Rooney's got any issues with that he's going to have to go.
It's a ridiculous issue anyway - if he proves himself a Manchester United great by scoring a lot of goals, nobody's ever going to remember whether or not he was captain when he did so. And the reality is that Van Persie has more experience as a captain at the top level, and has proven that he can perform while being captain - as he did at Arsenal.
Rooney has got to get consistent with his football, because he's been very poor on that score, and that's why Sir Alex questioned him in the first place.
Right now, though, I'm asking myself whether Wayne Rooney is not happy about not being captain, or whether he's just scared that he's going to have to work a hell of a lot harder under Van Gaal.
The only answer for Wayne is to tuck his lip in, work hard, and go and prove a point. There's no point sending his agent to talk to the press all the time about wanting to move here or there - his agent's done all that already, and he's got himself an unbelievable £300,000-a-week contract off the back of it.
Now he's got to prove that he's worth it. If he carries on as he has, not only is he cheating himself, he's cheating Manchester United - because as things are, a lot of people are asking if he's got the right to earn that sort of money. And let's face it: he hasn't.
The only other guys out there who earn that sort of wage are the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - but they're knocking in 50 or 60 goals a season while Rooney has only bagged more than 20 once in the last four years.
Rooney's been very fortunate - Manchester United decided they needed to keep him at any cost for the good of the brand, and he's been the beneficiary despite not justifying that sort of money. That was the question that Sir Alex was asking about him in his last few years - is he justifying the money, does he even have the fitness he needs? And the result was that Rooney threw his rattle out of the pram.
Now someone needs to say to him, look, you're getting what you're getting, now go out and earn it. Don't be an individual, be a team man. It's not snooker, badminton or table tennis - it's football. He can't ever forget that.
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3. Ryan Giggs has everything to learn from Van Gaal - but Van Gaal has nothing to learn from Giggs
Ryan Giggs shouldn't have any trouble going from caretaker manager to Van Gaal's number two. Right now it's all about learning what it takes to be a top coach - he's jumped the queue to get to that position, because most players need to go out and coach at lower levels before they land that kind of job. In the Dutch system, for example, the players have to go and work in youth team coaching before they're allowed anywhere near first team football. I think that's why a lot of former Premier League players have been failures as managers, because they've gone into it too quickly at too high a level - and they've had no depth of experience behind them.
So Ryan's got a lot to learn. Will he get involved in picking teams or working on tactics? I really don't think so. Van Gaal's got his own people who've been with him for years, so he's not going to listen to Ryan Giggs at the moment, because Ryan doesn't know his ethos, or the way he works. Giggsy is basically there to help with a bit of information - I don't think Van Gaal is going to converse much with him about anything deeper.
It'll be a real learning experience for Ryan, though, and the best of it is that he'll be working with a Dutch master, learning a totally different way of doing things from the best in the business. It's an opportunity any up-and-coming football coach would kill for.
His decision to retire is bang on - I really don't think it could have worked any other way. How would his relationship with Van Gaal have fared, for example, when the Dutchman wanted to drop him from the squad? It could get confrontational.
My guess is that's it's come about partly from Ryan's own feeling that's he had enough, and partly that Van Gaal might have made it a condition of his getting the assistant's job. You can't really watch the players properly with a coaching eye if you're on the pitch playing,
It's also very fitting for Ryan that he's made this decision quietly, out of season, in the shadow of another big announcement. No big parties, no emotional video montages. I'm sure that will all come at some point before the season starts up again, but it's happened when the big issue is the future of the club. The timing is great - it's a quick and quiet goodbye to Ryan the player, and a hello to Ryan the coach.
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4. Van Gaal will chew up and spit out the rebels who brought down Moyes
In his first seasons at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Van Gaal won domestic doubles. Can he do that again? If he brings the right players in, you never know. After all, nobody in their right mind predicted that Liverpool would have come so close to winning the title last season - and if they'd pulled it off it would have been fully deserved, because their football was second to none.
So why couldn't United do it next season? Sure, City will go and buy more players, but they dropped a few silly points in the league and will probably do that again. Liverpool dropped some silly points at the end too, but their inexperience cost them in the end.
So Manchester United have got a great chance, with a great manager. They will absolutely get a Champions League berth for next season.
And the biggest factor of all is that every player in the squad will give 100 per cent - unlike last season. People can criticise David Moyes all they like, but his top players - his most experienced players - let him down. They didn't show their experience and their class; instead, they downed tools and got him sacked, because they didn't like the way he did things. There's no other way of putting it.
It was a disgrace, and showed a complete lack of professionalism. The players who were involved in that will not dare do the same thing because their careers would be over if they did that twice.
If they turn up at pre-season and don't like the way things are changing, they'll need to put their hands up at training and say, "I need to walk away now." Van Gaal will not give into them - he's been doing the job a long, long time, and the moment any of those players starts showing the dissent they did under Moyes, they'll be out with their integrity gone, their reputations smeared. They'd never play top level football again.
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5. Make no mistake - United will get straight back to football's top table
It'll be fascinating to see how Van Gaal will shake things up. People will be scared of Manchester United once again.
You can forget all the cynical talk about Manchester United dropping down the league for years like Liverpool did - anyone who was saying that was living back in the '60s. Football's changed - it doesn't happen like that any more. The club is too long in the tooth to let it happen - it can't happen, and won't happen.
Manchester United will be back a damn sight quicker than 20-odd years it took them in the Matt Busby era - anyone who says different is living in the dark ages. There's a lot of prominent people who've been blurting out that sort of rubbish - and with Van Gaal coming in, they'll be eating their words along with some humble pie and a bit of custard.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- Van Gaal
- Ruud Van Nistelrooy
- Ryan Giggs
- Wayne Rooney