Davids’ stellar 20-year career was kick-started under the tutelage of Van Gaal at Ajax and as the vultures circle his mentor, with Jose Mourinho hovering over the Old Trafford hotseat, the 43-year-old is urging the United hierarchy to consider the broader picture before opting to replace the incumbent.
“I definitely think it is a blessing for Manchester United to have a coach like Van Gaal,” said Davids yesterday at Lansdowne Road, in his capacity as FC Barcelona’s ambassador for the International Champions Cup friendly against Celtic on July 30.
“He moulded me as a player by teaching me the basics, the fundamentals of football and definitely made me the player I was until I stopped playing. That is what Van Gaal does.
“He was fantastic to work with, giving you very clear guidelines so there is room to excel and grow. If you look at most youngsters, they have worked well under Van Gaal. I had never heard of Thomas Muller at Bayern Munich before Van Gaal managed him and he’s now one of the best players in the world.
“It is the same at Manchester United. Did anybody hear of Marcus Rashford last season? When he leaves Man United, Van Gaal will leave strong fundamentals for the next coach, like he’s done all the teams he’s been with.”
Still, to cut him loose now, amid pressure from factions of the United support, would represent an error. More can be extracted from his young squad, including another Dutchman to attract the venom of the Stretford End, Memphis Depay.
“I know Van Gaal only has one year left on his contract but he’s still in the race to win the FA Cup this season,” reasoned Davids.
“He understands that, as manager of a top club, there will also be speculation. Even when Mourinho wasn’t doing well at Chelsea, there was speculation. But it is not nice for the media to write he going to be sacked, or he was sacked, when that’s the not the truth. Players can underestimate the Premier League. It is much faster than the Dutch league but, talent-wise, I believe Memphis Depay can be revelation next season.”
Meanwhile, Davids has lamented the demise of the current Dutch team for their failure to continue the country’s 32-year sequence of qualifying for the Euros. The former Juventus play maker even asserted the FAI were wrong to task two Dutch coaches, Wim Koevermans and, more recently, Ruud Dokter with the job of overhauling the underage structures for elite talent.
“Sometimes teams can grow into the campaign but they can also just not be good enough. At this great stadium in Dublin, Ireland won to stop us reaching the 2002 World Cup (Davids was suspended).
“Holland always produces good young players but now not all of our young players are ready. They need time to develop. Ireland have made a mistake (by using the Dutch model). You can have this great driving instructor who ha s a 100% score and his methods are incredible and he comes in there. So, who is to blame if it doesn’t work out?”
Meanwhile Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata insists he would “happily take a pay cut” within the bubble of football and claimed some younger players need to tone down their “rock-star” behaviour.
In an interview with Spanish TV programme Salvados, reported by AS, Mata said: “I’d happily take a pay cut if there was less business involvement in the sport. At this level we’re very well paid and sometimes you get to thinking that there really isn’t much of a difference between x and x+3.”
Mata added: “Football is very well remunerated. It’s like we live in a bubble. Compared to the rest of society, we earn a ridiculous amount. It’s unfathomable. With regard to the world of football, I earn a normal wage but compared to 99.9% of Spain and the rest of the world, I earn an obscene amount.”