KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS: Patrick Kluivert has every confidence that Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United will be up among the Champions League slots at the end of his first season in English football.
Kluvert, former Holland star striker, was assistant to Van Gaal with third-placed Holland at the World Cup after which his boss departed for Old Trafford.
Initial results were disappointing with questions being raised about United’s transfer strategy and tactics. But the pressure has eased with the arrival of record signing Angel Di Maria and the last two successive victories in the Premier League.
Sunday’s 2-1 defeat of Everton moved United up into fourth place and into the top four for the first time in 18 months.
Kluivert said: “The way it started this season for United was difficult because Mr Van Gaal joined United straight after the World Cup and did not have the time he needed, ideally, to get to know the players well.
Now everyone can see that slowly, slowly, slowly and piece by piece it is all starting to come together.
“It always takes time for a new manager and, of course, United fans are impatient because they have had so much success.
“But they have won their last two games – OK, only by 2-1 but what matters is the three points, the victories. That’s always the most important thing because winning brings confidence and confidence brings more wins.
“Certainly I see them as a contenders for a Champions League spot. There wil be no problem. They just have to think as a team and I’m sure it will work out fine. Manchester United have a very strong squad, they just need belief.”
Kluivert was speaking on the sidelines of a sports performance conference organised by Paris by Qatar’s Aspire Academy. He was attending to promote a ‘Legends World Cup’ due to launch in 2016.
The concept involves veterans’ teams from all around the football world playing a tournament every two years at a slot in the schedule yet to be decided with an unspecified percentage of revenues goikng to charities for the under-privileged.
Jawid Bunyadi, for the organiser, said: “I’m sure a lot of legends will appreciate the cause so they won’t charge us a tremendous amount of money to attend. We’re already in talks with sponsors who think this is a great concept and are just waiting for us to come back with the initial host city.”
** Aspire Global Summit: Football Performance and Science at the Pavilion Cambon, Paris.