Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville could yet become part of Louis van Gaal’s staff at Manchester United, with the decision on their futures possibly not taken until after the World Cup when the Dutchman’s tenure as the Holland coach ends.
Van Gaal, who is preparing for Holland’s opening match with the holders, Spain, on Friday in Salvador, is yet to decide if Scholes, Butt and Neville will be retained.
While the 62-year-old has appointed Ryan Giggs as his No2, and brought in Frans Hoek to replace the discarded Chris Woods as the goalkeeping coach – as well as made Marcel Bout the opposition scout – Scholes, Butt and Neville are unsure if Van Gaal wants them to stay. So far, he is yet to contact any of the trio.
Although Neville had been a member of David Moyes’s coaching team before continuing under Giggs when he took over as the interim manager, and Butt was one of the club’s academy staff, other than helping the latter on an ad hoc basis, Scholes was not involved at United after his retirement as a player two seasons ago before the Welshman asked him to assist for the last four matches of the season.
Since Van Gaal’s appointment last month, Scholes and Neville have indicated they are uncertain about their futures at the club.
Scholes, in particular, has stated he does not expect to be retained. Writing on his Paddy Power blog a fortnight ago he said: “I’ve not spoken to Edward Woodward [executive vice-chairman]. I came back for Ryan Giggs for the last few games of last season to try to help out but I’m not waiting for a phone call and don’t expect to be at United next season.”
Scholes was also critical of Woodward, claiming that he has an “awful lot to prove” in the transfer window given last summer’s disastrous effort. But those comments will have no bearing on whether the 39-year-old is kept on, with the club keen that Scholes, Neville and Butt should be part of the future, and the final decision resting with Van Gaal.
Butt and Scholes were instrumental in advising Giggs to give first-team debuts to James Wilson and Tom Lawrence, two stars of the under-21 side, in the final home match of the season, a 3-1 win over Hull City. So how Van Gaal, who has a proven track record of promoting youth at his previous four clubs, deals with Butt and Scholes may be instructive.
Ashley Young, who had a particularly disappointing campaign, is insistent he and the squad can again challenge next year after United’s dismal title defence. “We want to kick on next season and get back to challenging on all fronts,” he said.
Van Gaal’s first games in charge will come on United’s pre-season tour of America, where the club play Los Angeles Galaxy, Roma, Internazionale and Real Madrid.On wanting to impress the new manager as he assesses his squad, Rafael Da Silva said: “It will be fantastic to play against such historic teams during our tour. Everyone will want to play in those matches. Pre-season is so important. It means everything to your season – if it goes well and you have a good pre-season it can mean you are set up for the rest of the season with your fitness,” the right-back said. “It’s always good to have everyone together and to train hard and enjoy the trip as well. We always look forward to going to the States.”