LONDON: Manchester United are believed to have lined up Holland coach Louis Van Gaal to take over as manager next season after last Tuesday’s sacking of David Moyes.
Veteran Wales forward Ryan Giggs was appointed as interim manager for the last four matches of the Premier League season and launched his new career with a decisive 4:0 victory over Norwich.
United directors, including former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, think Giggs has all the qualities to be boss in the future, that time is not yet.
However, right now the outgoing champions need an experienced, proven, self-confident manager to make up for a lost season; coaches do not come much more experienced or self-confident than Van Gaal. However United may also consider sounding out Carlo Ancelotti if Real Madrid lose this week to Bayern Munich.
United representatives have reportedly held two meetings with the ex-Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern coach. They are in a hurry to seal a deal and begin to plan for the transfer market and next season before Van Gaal is ‘lost’ to Holland’s World Cup demands for two months.
The easy victory over Norwich, with two goals apiece from Wayne Rooney and substitute Juan Mata, should not be over-estimated. United benefited from the instant impact of Giggs’s appointment against a very poor Canaries side who appear bound for relegation since they face Arsenal and Chelsea in their last two games.
Giggs and his popular coaching staff of ‘old boys’ Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, received a rousing reception before and after the match from the 72,000 crowd.
The Welshman, who has played 962 times for United, said: “I’ve walked down that tunnel so many times in big games and that was the best feeling I’ve had. I felt 10 foot tall, so proud. The fans’ reaction was great.”
The one factor he said he did not enjoy was dropping players from the starting line-up. One of those was Marouane Fellaini, a £27.5m Moyes purchase last summer.
Asked whether he had slept on Friday night, Giggs admitted: “No and leaving out players was the reason I didn’t sleep. They are team-mates of mine and I’ve never done it before. That has been the hardest part this week.”
Fulham fight on
** Fulham can still escape relegation despite the upset of conceding a two-goal in the last 15 minutes of a 2-2 home draw with FA Cup finalists Wigan.
“It was very disappointing,” said manager Felix Magath who had repeated ahead of the game that saving Fulham would be the finest achievement of his career, better even than his successes with FC Bayern. “If you’re leading 2-0 at home you have to win.”
Magath’s side were set for a third win in four matches on early second-half goals from Iran midfielder Ashkan Dejagah and defender Fernando Amorebieta. Hull silenced the Fulham fans’ celebrations through Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long.
Fulham go next to Stoke before a potentially decisive final home derby against Crystal Palace. Magath said: “As long as there is a chance we will keep trying and I am sure we can get two more wins.”
** Paul Lambert may be heading for his last weeks as manager of endangered Aston Villa after a 4-1 thrashing at Swansea for whom 15-goal Wilfried Bony scored twice. Villa are only four points above the relegation zone.
** Tottenham improved their European qualifying chances by winning 1-0 at 10-man Stoke – who had defender Ryan Shawcross sent off – to capitalise on Everton’s defeat at Southampton. Everton conceded two own goals by Antolin Alcaraz and Seamus Coleman.