By Martyn Herman
MANCHESTER (Reuters) - Ryan Giggs is ready to become Manchester United’s next manager if Louis van Gaal is shown the door a year early at the end of this season, former club captain Bryan Robson told Reuters.
Out of work former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been tipped to takeover at Old Trafford but Robson says United great Giggs, who has been assistant to Van Gaal, would be a perfect choice.
“The thing for me is that Van Gaal was always going to be a three-year contract with Ryan working under him so that they could see whether he was ready to step in,” Robson told Reuters at the launch of United’s partnership with Gulf Oil International at the club’s Carrington training centre.
“Ryan was a great player for this club, he loves playing football the United way, he’s done all his badges and for me he’s in the right place at the right time.”
Former England skipper Robson, 59, was still at the heart of United’s midfield when a teenaged Giggs broke into the first team in 1991. The Welsh winger went on to make a record 963 appearances and claim 34 trophies.
He has been working alongside the much-travelled Van Gaal in what has been a tricky transition period for United following the retirement of Alex Ferguson, who had been in charge for 26 years, in 2013.
But Robson said despite a tough baptism in the dugout, Giggs has the credentials to revive United.
“People say it’s too big a challenge, too big a jump. But I don’t agree. Look at Pep Guardiola, he came through the ranks at Barcelona as a player and then as a young coach and then they trusted him and he stepped up. He was tremendously successful,” Robson said.
“It’s the same with Ryan. He knows what this club is all about and the fans would be totally behind the club if they made that decision and totally behind Ryan.”
Asked if it was conceivable Van Gaal, who signed a three-year contract in May 2014, would see out his final season at Old Trafford, Robson said the Dutchman's minimum requirement would be to ensure United secure a top-four finish in the Premier League.
They face a replay at West Ham in the quarter-final of the FA Cup after Sunday’s 1-1 draw and must try and overhaul a 2-0 deficit against Liverpool on Thursday in the Europa League last 16.
Robson said both are still possible.
“I think he needs to win something, or at least get United into Europe, that’s the least we have to look at,” Robson said. "Otherwise it's a huge blow to the club's prestige.
“With Arsenal going out of the FA Cup, if I were manager of this club I would look at that now and think this is really do-able, we can win this trophy and we have to get the lads to believe that," added Robson referring to the competition where apart from United, Everton, Crystal Palace, Watford and West Ham United are the clubs still in the running.
“Winning the FA cup would be a huge boost to some of the squad who have never won a trophy with United, it would give them great self-belief which has been lacking a little this season.
“We won it in 1990, won the Cup Winners’ Cup the next year and the title two years after that.”
Champions League football, however, could be a fading dream if United lose to rivals Manchester City in this weekend’s derby.
“It’s a massive game for both clubs, they are both challenging for fourth spot. Really, we can’t afford to get beat in that game because it would put us seven (points) behind them and games are running out.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)