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Will Cristiano Ronaldo return to help Manchester United kids and Louis Van Gaal make Red Devils great again?

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By JOHN GUBBA

Maybe the media have got it right? Maybe Jose Mourinho WILL be manager at Manchester United next season. Or maybe they’ve got it totally wrong. I hope they have got it wrong. Because recent events have shown the Louis Van Gaal is finally on the right track – giving home grown talent their chance.

In my opinion, it would be criminal to destroy the exciting foundations ‪United have laid for the future.Van Gaal has consistently trusted the young stars served up by the Academy and under 21 boss Warren Joyce.

How many managers have the courage and forsight van Gaal has shown, when he could have packed his squad with more senior players?

The dream for United fans is creating a new dynasty like we did on the back of the ‪‎Class of 92‬ – not a short term boom and bust gamble, with Jose Mourinho.

I do have a soft spot for the self-appointed Special One. He is a great manager. Of that there is no doubt. But I can’t get away from the gut feeling that this club is built on turning home grown talent into the best players in the world.

Personally, I love the way Van Gaal has survived his fight with the media. His philosophy of giving kids a chance has been totally under-estimated.

Louis Van Gaal kids.

I can’t imagine Mourinho ever choosing youth ahead of established stars and big money signings.
The cynics will tell you that Marcus Rashford only got his dream debut and 4 goals in his first 2 matches because of United’s unbelievable injury list. But that is just media propaganda from journalists who’ve consistently made up stories about LVG. Because, their agenda is not what’s good for Manchester United.

Rashford runs riot with double on 3-2 Premier League debut win over Arsenal

What we’ve seen this past 10 days is exactly why Jose Mourinho is not the right man to lead this great football club.

Playing entertaining football is United’s DNA. But so is bringing through the kids. Just as Sir Alex did with Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, Butt & the Neville brothers when United’s academy discovered the Class of 92.

Just as Sir Matt did with the Busby Babes. Pre-Munich . . . and then to win the European Cup in 1968.

This year Sir Bobby Charlton celebrates the 60th anniversary of his United debut. Meantime, Ryan Giggs this week celebrated the 25th anniversary of his United debut. And 22 years ago Paul Scholes scored his 1st Premier League goal for the Reds in a team of kids who flourished alongside the iconic Eric Cantona.

My bet is that many years from now we’ll be talking about the current crop of kids. Whether that be the likes of Academy youngsters Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard. Or young signings like Anthony Martial & Luke Shaw. The point is, Louis van Gaal’s role is to lay the foundations for the next generation of United heroes. And for the next manager, who LVG has already told us will be Ryan Giggs.

I must admit I was worried when United were playing boring football before Christmas. And I was initially disappointed United allowed Guardiola to choose City.

But LVG is living up to his reputation of bringing the best out of the kids. As he’s done ever since he won the European Cup with Ajax back in 1995. Van Gaal’s home grown squad that year remains the youngest ever to be champions of Europe. And they did it playing Total Football, with a team of youngsters – most of whom became superstars.
The team that lined up against Milan in that Final a who’s who of Dutch football.

Ajax: 1995 European Cup winners still the youngest team ever to be champions of Europe

Let him complete his 3-year contract and LVG will deliver. His apprentice Ryan Giggs will take United forward to the next level. And the production line will continue to flourish, with old boy Nicky Butt a great addition as the new Academy boss – because Butt understands what makes United great.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither was the Theatre of Dreams. United’s spirit will never die. And neither will the magic that makes Manchester United the most special club on the planet. . . a Special Club that doesn’t need the self-appointed Special one.

Not when we have an eccentric Dutchman who can make United’s current crop of Kids our next generation of heroes.

Personally I’d love to see one inspirational, marque signing added to the current mix of young stars – just as Sir Alex did with Cantona . . . Imagine the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo leading by example, just as Eric did 20 years ago.

Meantime, injured skipper Wayne Rooney is a great role model for the kids. I hope to see Rooney and Van Gaal at Old Trafford for one more season.

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Louis van Gaal, Giggs or Mourinho? Chelsea’s lack of respect for John Terry matched by media mafia’s disregard for truth

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Ryan Giggs made United debut on 2nd March 1991

By JOHN GUBBA

Quite frankly, the possibility of Chelsea failing to sign John Terry up for one more season at least, in my opinion, is more staggering than sacking Jose Mourinho. Loyalty is only ever one big pay cheque away from being discarded by the majority of professional footballers these days. But love him or hate him, JT has been a colossal leader down at the Bridge.

The Blues are again revealing shades of the embarrassing lack of respect they showed another of their heroes a couple of seasons ago when Frank Lampard was discarded before his sell by date. Calling time on club heroes is never easy and the great managers have always known when to move their legends out of the spotlight.

But surely clubs that make millions in TV money and the globalisation of their brand, thanks to long-serving players like Terry and Lampard, owe them the benefit of the doubt in the twilight of their careers. Not least because their experience and influence is priceless when you are building a new team.

It's All Over for John Terry headline

John Terry still says he wants a new contract

The truth is that the financial men, who control the purse strings, are often just as fickle as the fans, who give players abuse because their knowledge of the game is limited to ill-informed pub banter and failure to recognise talent when it is staring  them in the face.

One of the most popular clips in my company’s vast football archive was filmed 23 years ago at a Fans Football Forum hosted by West Ham United, when Harry Redknapp was given abuse by one outspoken regular at Upton Park. The old Iron insisted Lampard junior was wrongly being selected ahead of Scott Canham, a player who be long forgotten were it not for his starring role in our famous YouTube clip.

There are some players who demand respect from their clubs and fans because their loyalty and outstanding service is unquestioned. Take Ryan Giggs for example who has served Manchester United as man and boy for nearly a quarter of a century. There was never any danger of  Manchester United abandoning Giggs at the end of his playing career. Not while Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge.

Consequently, Giggsy played until he was 40 and his subsequent stints as caretaker boss and assistant manager has seen him chalk up a quarter of a century at Old Trafford. On 2nd March it will be the 25th anniversary of his United debut back in 1991.

While certain sections of the media maliciously suggest there’s no love lost between the manager and his assistant, the truth is Louis Van Gaal has shown great respect to Giggs. LVG has repeatedly said he’s preparing Giggs for the top job. And that brings me to the hottest topic of all for the biggest club in the world.

Who will be manager at Old Trafford next season?

Personally, I find it hard to understand why Giggs is not being taken more seriously as a coach who could take the reigns at Old Trafford. With the world’s media heralding Pep Guardiola as the messiah who will arrive at Manchester City in the summer to create a new dynasty to emulate the one he started at Barcelona, it’s worth remembering that he was a gamble when he was originally given his big chance.

Guardiola was the manager I desperately wanted to see succeed Van Gaal at United when the time was right. But that of course will never happen now that he’s shown his colours and opted for the Etihad. Meantime, the media abuse being served up for Van Gaal is nothing short of scandalous.

We do not have to be rocket scientists to know that for a long spell this season United’s football was quite simply boring.  Paul Scholes has said it. Rio Ferdinand has said it. Michael Owen has said it. Just about every pundit on television has said it. But that does not give the media a licence to make up stories because they think they know the solution. And then lambast their target when he refuses to dignify their agenda by playing ball.

Louis Van Gone newspaper headline

Media have revelled in adding to pressure on LVG

Jose Mourinho was prematurely driven out of his second spell at Chelsea when the media spotlight on his mistakes burnt so brightly that Roman Abramovich pressed the panic button. Now those same media sages have basicaly decided “Mourinho is the only man who can save United from oblivion.”

The problem is the media do not really care what the truth is and there are too many who peddle fiction not journalism, in the pursuit of headlines to sell newspapers and hook an audience on radio, television and the web.

Mourinho stories premature

The media mafia decided months ago that Mourinho is destined for Old Trafford. And I’m not saying that won’t happen, or that LVG will never get the sack. But the story and the season is still unfolding and it should be allowed to do so without the media having an undue influence on the outcome.

It is crystal clear that the mass media have overstepped the mark more than once by running premature stories about Mourinho and Manchester United.  Equally, it should be obvious that newspapers, radio and TV are all about ratings and profit. And it should also be recognised that far too often,  the pressure the media exert does get managers the sack – because the headlines do mobilise public pressure. That in turn makes more headlines. And that’s why most clubs end up stuck in a never ending merrygoround.

My view is don’t be surprised if Louis Van Gaal does see out the full three years of his contract. Equally, if United fail to finish in the Top 4 and don’t win a Trophy either, the chances are the media and Jose Mourinho will finally get their wish.

Personally I’d like to see my Ryan Giggs get the top job at United when LVG does move on. Something I never imagined 23 years ago when I walked on the hallowed turf with Giggsy after he signed his first boot deal with Reebok.

 

 

Clock counting down transfer window resembles hostage situation with Manchester United held to ransom in pursuit of top players

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Louis Van Gaal has raised expectations at Old Trafford

Van Gaal has raised expectations at Old Trafford

BY JOHN GUBBA

To put it bluntly Manchester United have five days until the transfer window closes to save their season. Humiliated in the League Cup tonight by minnows MK Dons, the club crowned champions for a record 20th time just 15 months ago have become a shambles. Not just on the pitch – but off it too.

Humiliated 4-0 in Milton Keynes hours after breaking the British transfer record by agreeing to pay Real Madrid an eye-watering 59.7 million pounds for Angel Di Maria, this is a script you simply could not make up.

The brutal reality is that Louis Van Gaal is still at least two, possibly three more marque signings away from assembling a squad with any hope of challenging the top six.

With clubs around the world aware of the Red Devils’ desperate situation, further meteoric spending will be required. Not to mention the huge salaries that will be expected to persuade world class players to miss out on the Champions League for one season at least.

Blinded by a perfect pre-season that produced six wins out of six, fans and pundits alike expected the new manager to deliver a challenge for the Premier League. The Dutchman was a tactical genius when he guided Holland to third place in this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

But three matches into the new campaign, Van Gaal has a return of just one point out of six in the Premier League and a crushing Capital Cup exit that ranks as one of the worst embarrassments in the club’s history.

“I am not shocked because it can happen, especially when you have nine injuries and you have to play a match within 48 hours,” was Van Gaal’s verdict. “We have to build a new team and that can’t be done in one month.”

Di Maria it is hoped will make his debut at Burnley on Saturday, along with Marcos Rojo, signed for £16 million pound from Sporting Lisbon a week ago. But it is impossible to envisage an instant fix, such is the frailty of United’s defence and the confidence shattering blows to an inadequate squad further weakened by injuries.

Make no mistake United were battered by the minnows from League One. This was no fluke. MK Dons were more organised, more determined. After a promising start, United’s unfamiliar 3-5-2 system was ripped apart with embarrassing ease.

Any manager will tell you he needs time and the extent of the re-building required at Old Trafford means there is no longer any way to paper over the cracks. But time is a rare commodity in the 21st century, where football is no longer simply a sport. This is big business and the consequences of failure and poor investment are potentially catastrophic.

The Glazer’s front man Ed Woodward has entered the fray splashing the cash at the eleventh hour with everything to prove. His stature in the cut-throat arena of the global transfer market is yet to match the class act United took for granted when David Gill was calling the shots. But he has been dealt a tough challenge to deal with.

It is not rocket science to conclude that Woodward has overpaid. So far he has recruited Marouane Fellaini  (27.5M), Juan Mata (37.5M), Ander Herrera (£28.8M), Luke Shaw (27M) plus Rojo and Di Maria for a combined 76M spree in the last seven days. That’s 196.5M on six new faces, and, if Paul Scholes was on the ball last week with his evaluation, United still need three more big signings.

By my reckoning – and through the good and the bad times I have followed United for close on 50 years – we still need a world class centre back, a ball winning central midfielder and a quality marksman to come close to challenging Chelsea and Manchester City. The Blues are both a cut above their closest challengers in the Premier League and even further ahead of the Reds.

Woodward’s ability to deliver the missing ingredients with the clock ticking down will have long reaching consequences because the stakes are so high and there is little room for error. United fans are hoping and praying he can deliver and equally that Van Gaal has sent him in search of the right signings.

The Old Trafford faithful admire LVG’s continuation of the United tradition of giving homegrown players a chance and the signs are that the latest crop of starlets include some great prospects. But whatever the makeup of his re-built squad he can only succeed if he firstly wins trophies and secondly moulds a team that plays the beautiful game the United way. And that means we must be entertained.

In the full glare of the media spotlight on the biggest club floundering in the world’s most watched domestic league, there is no hiding place – as the much maligned David Moyes found out in his ill-fated solitary season in the hot seat.

Failure to qualify for the Champions League as a result of last season’s spectacular crash to seventh place under Moyes meant United were competing in the League Cup for the first time in over 20 years. But that ignominy was nothing compared to the shame on a Tuesday night in Milton Keynes brought on United by a collapse so spectacular that it beggared belief.

Triumphant MK Dons manager Karl Robinson summed up the magnitude of his side’s four goal demolition of the Manchester giants when he told BBC radio minutes after the final whistle: “We are still in shock. For the first 20 minutes they dominated us and we didn’t know what to do.”

But then came a spectacular collapse by the club that claims to be the biggest in the world. To do so at the hands of League One minnows who only came into existence a decade ago has intensified the pressure on the new manager to start performing miracles.

Can Holland go all the way? Why Manchester United fans are celebrating Dutch win

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BY JOHN GUBBA

Louis Van Gaal is the new king of the mind games. That’s my verdict on another remarkable twist at this fascinating World Cup.
Holland’s elimination of brave Costa Rica in a Krul penalty shoot out will go down in football folklore as a dose of Dutch courage.

With the final place in the final four at stake this was the match to decide who plays Argentina in the semi final.

And underdogs Costa ignored all the odds with another incredible performance that denied the Dutch . . . Wesley Sneijder twice hit the woodwork and goalkeeper Kelvor Navas had the game of his life.

There was even a crucial save from Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen to keep out Udena in a pulsating final few minutes of extra time.

Then came the real drama when van Gaal sent on substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul right at the end – purely for the penalty shoot out.

The Costa Ricans remember had scored 5 out 5 penalties to beat Greece in a shoot out in the previous round.

But this was a master stroke by the Dutch manager that clearly unsettled the opposition – and Krul joined in the mindgames by telling each penalty taker he knew where they would be aiming . . .
It worked as Krul made two saves and guessed right with all 5 penalties.

WC_59-HolCos-PENS-696

This has already been an unbelievable World Cup – but we’ve never seen anything like this before.

And Manchester United fans have joined the Dutch celebrations as they relish the prospects when Van Gaal takes over the Old Trafford hot seat in a few days time.

Argentine overcame the challenge of Belgium in the night’s other quarter-final.

Higuain scored the only goal when he struck early. And for once the South Americans did not rely on their no.1 Messi to get them over the line.

That means both semi finals will be Europe against South America.
Argentina against Brazil was the final the bookmakers predicted
– but can Germany or the Dutch make history and become the first European side to win the tournament in South America.

The Dutch certainly believe if anyone can mastermind that Van Gaal can.

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The future is orange! With Klopp again rejecting United, Van Gaal will be new supremo at Old Trafford and Giggs the apprentice!

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There will be a genuine buzz of excitement at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday when Ryan Giggs starts what I confidently predict will be another glittering chapter in his remarkable career at Manchester United.

by John GubbaIt will be his first match as player manager and this is not good timing for visitors Norwich City who are in for a torrid afternoon because I have absolutely no doubt that the United stars who drastically underachieved under David Moyes will be bursting to prove themselves.

Following the inevitable sacking of Moyes four matches before the end of the club’s worst ever season in the Premier League, Giggs is a hugely popular choice to take charge – albeit in a caretaker role at this stage.

Twenty-four years ago Giggs was handed his first professional contract as a player  in the week of his 17th birthday. The Welsh wizard has won every honour in the game and embodies everything the club stands for.

Along with the rest of the superstars born in that famous Class of 92, Giggsy has been mentored throughout by Sir Alex Ferguson, a pivotal father figure who gave all his proteges that burning desire to be the best and overcome all odds.

It is exactly those qualities and his proud Old Trafford pedigree that will make him a successful coach and a key figure in the upcoming era that looks destined to unfold under  the new emperor Louis van Gaal.

There are those who believe Giggs already has the charisma and ability to grow into the role of United manager and success on his watch in the season’s four remaining matches against Norwich, Sunderland, Hull and Southampton would strengthen that argument.

But my belief is that future for the Reds is orange!

dawning of a new era at Theatre of Dreams

My sources tell me that Jurgen Klopp was offered the opportunity to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as manager but turned the job down before it was offered to Moyes. Klopp in my view would be a perfect fit for United and now the opportunity is here again, if he could be persuaded to leave his beloved Borussia Dortmund, he would be a manager the fans adore.

His swashbuckling style and engaging persona, along with his proven track record at the highest level  make him a dynamic manager who would be an irresistible force at Manchester’s top table. But his heart currently belongs in Dortmund and his statements today appear to rule him out of the reckoning.

“Man Utd is a great club and I feel very familiar with their wonderful fans,” Klopp was quoted as saying in the Guardian. ‘But my commitment to Borussia Dortmund and the people is not breakable.”

That leaves Van Gaal. who turns 63 in August,  as the front runner. And clearly the prospect of the Dutchman taking charge after this summer’s World Cup in Brazil when his stewardship of the Netherlands team expires makes him perfectly placed to step in.

The fact that he has already made it known that he is “very keen” on the job at Old Trafford suggests he is confident of being given the nod, even if he has not officially had it already. And that is good news for Giggs because Van Gaal is a manager who always insists on having someone with the DNA of the club within his inner circle.

Like any top manager, Van Gaal will bring members of his preferred management team with him. But expect a role for Giggs. Just how prominent that will be will largely depend on how well he performs in his four matches as caretaker. A good showing will put United’s most decorated player in the rrame for being the new manager’s apprentice and eventual successor.

While United trumpeted Moyes’ appointment as being consistent with the club’s philosophy of long-term planning, turning to a manager in his sixties is not necessarily a short-term fix. Fergie of course remained in charge into his seventies and still has an importance voice in the boardroom.  Giggs learning the ropes as a coach under a new manager with a long track record of success who may well take on the role of director of football could be a winning combination designed for longevity.

There will be many arguments put forward over the coming weeks for other candidates including Jose Mourinho and Roberto Martinez, both of whom would do outstanding jobs at Old Trafford. But life is all about timing. And much that I admire both Mourinho and Martinez, everything points to Van Gaal who can add the fact that he has rejuvenated the international career of United’s injured marksman Robin van Persie to his outstanding CV.

My only reservation about Van Gaal is that his management style and abrasive nature will not make him popular across the board. But that did not hold back Ferguson. And at this stage of proceedings Manchester United need a strong manager who will put the club back on their perch at the top of the English game. Not just winning trophies but playing football to be proud of.

Mourinho could have been that man if he had not returned to Stamford Bridge and declared his undying love for Chelsea. While Martinez, who previously turned down Liverpool because in my estimation he wanted the bigger job at United, has now committed himself to Everton. So my conclusion is that unless Klopp has a change of heart, Van Gaal is the man and Giggs will be his apprentice.