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Can Iron Tulip make United bloom?

Van Gaal is available, with a strong record, but it could be a fiery, volatile short-term ride

Published on Apr 27, 2014 1:28 PM
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal (centre), the front-runner to snare the United hot seat, has enjoyed success throughout his career with Ajax, Barca, AZ and Bayern even without staying long at each. -- PHOTOS: REUTERS

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".

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Background story

Domineering, forceful personality

Moyes never got the chance to break down and rebuild his own United. Van Gaal would demand total control, and would not look fearfully or even respectfully up into the directors' box seeking approval for his decisions.


Matt Busby (Scot) Oct 1, 1945 to June 4, 1969

  • Win percentage (all competitions): 50.45
  • Honours

5 First Division titles

2 FA Cups

5 Charity Shields (2 shared)

1 European Cup

 Jimmy Murphy (Welsh)Feb 19, 1958 to May 14, 1958

  • Win %: 22.73

 Wilf McGuinness (English)June 4, 1969 to Dec 29, 1970

  • Win %: 36.78

 Matt Busby Dec 29, 1970 to June 8, 1971

  • Win %: 52.38

 Frank O'Farrell (Irish) June 8, 1971 to Dec 19, 1972

  • Win %: 37.04

 Tommy Docherty (Scot) Dec 22, 1972 to July 4, 1977

  • Win %: 46.93
  • Honours 1 FA Cup

1 Second Division title

Dave Sexton (English) July 14, 1977 to April 30, 1981

  • Win %: 40.30
  • Honours 1 Charity Shield (shared)

Ron Atkinson (English) June 9, 1981 to Nov 6, 1986

  • Win %: 50.00
  • Honours 2 FA Cups 1 Charity Shield

Alex Ferguson (Scot) Nov 6, 1986 to May 19, 2013

  • Win %: 59.67
  • Honours

13 Premier League titles

5 FA Cups

4 League Cups

10 Community Shields

(1 shared)

2 Champs League titles

1 Cup Winners' Cup

1 Super Cup

1 Intercontinental Cup

1 Fifa Club World Cup 

David Moyes (Scot) July 1, 2013 to April 22, 2014

  • Win %: 52.94
  • Honours 1 Community Shield


Men who made the instant transition from playing to managing:

Kenny Dalglish

The former Scotland forward was only 34 when he succeeded Joe Fagan as Liverpool player-manager in 1985 and went on to guide the club to a league and FA Cup double in his first season in charge. Two more titles and one more FA Cup followed before he resigned as manager in 1991, a year after hanging up his boots.

Graeme Souness

The no-nonsense Scotland midfielder became the first Rangers player-manager when, a month shy of his 33rd birthday, he joined from Sampdoria for £300,000 (S$630,000) and succeeded Jock Wallace. Three titles and four Scottish League Cups followed in five years.

 Bryan Robson

The former Manchester United midfielder spent two years as player-manager at Middlesbrough, immediately winning the club promotion to the top tier. Had a further five years as manager, during which time he took them to two League Cup finals and one FA Cup final. Left in 2001, seven months after Terry Venables was brought in as head coach.

 Ruud Gullit

The Dutchman had only been at Chelsea a year when he was appointed player-manager in 1996 after Glenn Hoddle was made England head coach. Guided the club to FA Cup success in his first campaign in charge only to be sacked the next season with Chelsea second in the league and in the quarter-finals of both cups after a disagreement with the board.

Glenn Hoddle

Guided Swindon Town to the Premier League during his two years as player-manager before taking on the same role at Chelsea, which led to him getting the England job.

The Times, London