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Can Iron Tulip make United bloom?

The Straits Times | Rob Hughes | Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014

Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal (C) talks with the media at the Team Workshop for the 2014 World Cup in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina state February 19, 2014.

US - How swift the wheel now turns around Old Trafford.

Last Sunday, a fan dressed as the Grim Reaper taunted David Moyes with the scythe. Over the next 48 hours, the manager suffered dismissal by a thousand rumours.

By Tuesday, he was gone. The Scot was thanked for his integrity and hard work, condemned by results, and made scapegoat for players who failed to respect him and failed to do their best for United.

Ryan Giggs is the "interim" manager for four games. And the Welshman inadvertently twisted the hatchet by saying he had spoken to Sir Alex, and wanted to revive "The Manchester United philosophy - playing with passion, speed, tempo, bravery and imagination".

In other words, Moyes dulled them.

But even before a ball was kicked in the Giggs' era, a Dutch newspaper reported that Louis van Gaal had agreed to be the new Man U manager.

United denied it the way they denied the leak that Moyes was a goner.

Van Gaal, who will be 63 in August, has already said he wants to finish his career in the English Premier League once his World Cup commitment to the Netherlands is over.

His negotiations with Spurs were put on hold. The whisper was that King Louis was stalling in case something better than Tottenham turned up. His advisers heard that Arsene Wenger might leave Arsenal (who recently appointed one of van Gaal's former youth trainers to run their academy).

But if the Frenchman stays, as he says he will, then the ambitious van Gaal has friends in other places. One friend in particular: Robin van Persie, who plays for van Gaal in the Dutch national team and plays, sometimes when his body feels like it, for United.

If De Telegraaf sources are reliable, United representatives were in Portugal, at the Algarve villa of van Gaal, during the past week.

The man known as "The Iron Tulip" is said to have agreed a multi-year, multi-million deal, and to have been promised a 100 million euro (S$174 million) transfer kitty to reshape the Red Devils to his liking.

United's spin is similar to the way that the club handled the Moyes "rumours". We have nothing to tell you, we will make our announcements when we are ready.

The most public of clubs working in the most clandestine of manners. The club owned by an American family, the Glazers, who bought them on borrowed funds and floated part of the shareholding through the New York Stock Exchange.

Hence some of the secrecy. Liverpool's owners, hedge-fund managers in Boston, are more visible around Anfield than the Glazers are ever at Old Trafford.

Maybe John W. Henry and his syndicate - and significantly Mrs Henry who looks a genuine fan of the team - "get" the Reds more than the Glazers get the Red Devils.

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