The former Red Devils defender says the Dutchman’s working relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson will be critical to his success at Old Trafford
By Russell Stoddart
Former Manchester United defender Gordon McQueen is “not sure” whether Louis van Gaal is the right man to succeed David Moyes and is not convinced that Ryan Giggs will benefit from working as assistant manager.
The Netherlands boss was appointed as the Scot’s full-time replacement on Monday and will take charge at Old Trafford after the World Cup.
He has the Champions League in 1995 with Ajax plus national titles with the Amsterdam club, AZ, Barcelona and Bayern Munich but McQueen thinks that his relationship with former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be crucial to his success in Manchester.
“Van Gaal comes with a terrific CV but I’m not sure he is suited to managing Manchester United,” he told Goal.
“A lot will depend on his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex has taken a step back but he is still an important person at the club.
“We knew that David Moyes was ‘the Chosen One’ but Van Gaal is very much his own man with strong opinions and, if he isn’t happy with something, he will take the matter into his own hands.
“To do that job you need to get on with the big hitters and these are two strong characters with their own views on the way forward. Hopefully they will work well together and the fact that he’s got the job suggests that it comes with Sir Alex’s approval, so we will see.”
Despite weeks of speculation that Van Gaal did not want to work with Giggs or ‘the Class of ’92’ – Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville – the Welshman has brought an end to his playing career and will work as assistant manager.
But McQueen is worried that Van Gaal will clear out the rest of the staff and leave Giggs isolated.
“I don’t know if Van Gaal wanted Ryan as his assistant or he was forced to appoint him,” he continued. “It might have been a condition but it would be a surprise if that was the case.
“I’m more concerned that he will ditch the backroom staff that was there at the end of the season and bring in his own, which might leave Ryan feeling a bit out the loop.
“Presumably keeping Ryan is all about learning the ropes from a proven winner but everyone is different and there are no guarantees. Van Gaal helped the De Boer brothers [Frank & Ronald] and Pep Guardiola but there are no guarantees the arrangement will work.”
McQueen is also concerned that one of Van Gaal’s key early decisions could disrupt Wayne Rooney. The England striker has been widely tipped to take over the captaincy from the departing Nemanja Vidic since being handed a bumper new contract worth around £300,000 per week by Moyes in February.
However, Van Gaal has outlined his reasoning for making Robin van Persie the captain of his country and McQueen is concerned that giving him the United armband would be a “blow” for Rooney.
“It sounds like he will make his fellow Dutchman, Robin van Persie, his captain and I can understand why he would put his trust in someone he knows,” the former Red Devil remarked, “but, when Wayne Rooney signed his new contract, I’m sure he expected to be the captain for the next four or five years so this will come as a blow.
“If this had happened last year, it might have been the final straw and Wayne would have pushed to leave but I think he is more settled now and will just put his head down and get on with things.
“Thankfully he has the World Cup to take his mind off United matters for the next couple of months and he will come back fired up whether Van Persie is captain or not.”
McQueen does believe, however, that Van Gaal has the profile and experience to succeed where Moyes failed.
“[His CV] is very important,” he argued. “It is one thing that people threw back in David Moyes’s face when things began to go wrong,” he added. “He was a good manager, highly thought of, but he hadn’t won anything. Van Gaal hasn’t just won big prizes domestically and internationally but he’s worked in different countries and also managed his country.
“He is also used to managing at the biggest clubs and that is important. He has a presence about him that comes with experience and success, and that is what United need right now.
“The No.1 priority for next season is to get back in the Champions League. It would be unthinkable for United to spend two seasons out of Europe’s top competition. Of course the fans will expect him to win something but Van Gaal needs to steady the ship after what happened last season.”