Manchester United moved quickly to deny that the club’s owner Joel Glazer met Louis van Gaal in Switzerland on Friday.
But reports of a change of manager at United are sure to dominate the last month of the season after David Moyes’s dismal first year at the club.
Moyes trusts the club to retain him and back him in the summer transfer window, when United are expected to spend £120million, with Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos and Southampton’s Luke Shaw their initial targets.
Van Gaal is in prime position to take over at Tottenham after his World Cup campaign with Holland. But negotiations have slowed in recent weeks and it seems as though Van Gaal is unsure whether to commit in case the United job becomes vacant.
The alleged meeting between Van Gaal and Glazer was reported by De Telegraaf in Holland, a highly respected Dutch newspaper – though it has been met with flat denials from United.
Nevertheless, Moyes will endure a tense few weeks. Key decisions at the club are taken by Joel Glazer along with executive chairman Ed Woodward. Moyes’s biggest supporter, Sir Alex Ferguson, is not expected to be at the heart of any discussions about the future, nor is former chief executive David Gill, who remains on the board.
The departure of Michael Bolingbroke, the chief operating officer, to Inter Milan, is the most high-profile of a number of staff changes made recently and is interpreted as the Glazers exercising ever tighter control.
The key question will be whether Woodward and the Glazers still endorse the philosophy of stability and long-term appointments, which was at the centre of Gill and Ferguson’s thinking when they gave their advice about the succession, or whether the club are now ready to move in a different direction, with more short-term managerial appointments. Clearly the summer will be crucial, with players accepting that a new era is approaching at the club.
Ryan Giggs has conceded that his extraordinary Champions League career came to an end as an unused substitute in the Allianz Arena last week and the 40-year-old is considering his options at the end of the season.
Asked whether he would play again in the Champions League, Giggs said: “Me? Probably not. It’s weird to think that but I’ve no complaints. I;ve won the competition twice and played in four finals, and the Champions League nights have always been special for me.
“I’ve enjoyed playing in the tournament, from when I was younger until now. You’re up against the best. You get some group games that can be a little easier but once you come through to the latter stages you’re up against the big teams and that’s when you really test yourself.”
Giggs looks likely to call time on his 23-year playing career. Speaking about his future as a player, Giggs said: “I said last week that I’ll make a decision at the end of the season.”
Giggs will also have to decide whether to become a long-term part of Moyes’s coaching team if the manager does stay. He is currently a player-coach and while the club moved denied reports of a rift between the manager and Giggs last month, his footballing philosophy would seem to be different to Moyes’s.
Giggs has spoken about the need for speed in the team and, having been schooled by Ferguson, he would be likely to favour a more aggressive, attacking approach than Moyes has demonstrated at United.
His presence on the coaching staff may prove an unwelcome distraction at the start of next season, which will be crucial for Moyes’s survival, with Giggs a potential stand-in successor if Moyes is sacked mid-season. - Mail on Sunday