Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal can have difficulties with experienced players, according to former Netherlands striker Patrick Kluivert.
United were unable to overturn a two-goal deficit as they were knocked out of the Europa League by rivals Liverpool on Thursday and Van Gaal must resume his attempts to salvage something from a disappointing second season in charge at Old Trafford when his team travel to neighbours City for Sunday’s Manchester derby.
Kluivert came through as a teenage forward under Van Gaal at Ajax, memorably announcing himself with the winning goal in the 1995 Champions League final against AC Milan, before being reunited with his old mentor to begin a prolific spell at Barcelona in 1998.
A spell as assistant coach under Van Gaal with the Dutch national team, concluding with their run to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, gave the 39-year-old a further insight into the methods that have won success yet to be replicated with United.
Van Gaal overseeing the sale of senior stars such as Robin van Persie and Angel Di Maria at Old Trafford, while promoting a host of youth players into the first-team picture, is a process that has not surprised Kluivert.
“He’s a trainer and a man who really wants to do well and sometimes, with experienced players who have already achieved something, he has some struggles,” Kluivert told Omnisport, speaking at Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam.
“With young players he is amazing, he’s fantastic. Sure, also with experienced players but some players who are experienced have their own vision of playing in the game. That does not always go well.
“He knows what he wants. He is very honest, he is very straight and that’s a characteristic that suits him very well.”
Two younger players experiencing contrasting fortunes have caught Kluivert’s eye at United this season.
Memphis Depay has failed to scale similar heights at United after inspiring PSV to Eredivisie glory last season, but the Netherlands international has a new attacking colleague for company – Marcus Rashford, whose early performances have put Kluivert in mind of his own formative years.
“[Depay] is in a little bit of a difficult situation,” Kluivert explained. “But I hope for him, because I know Memphis very well, that he will succeed. If he can focus on the game he will succeed.
“A young player needs time in a new club with new players around him. At PSV he was the star and now he’s playing among other big, young stars. I hope he will succeed because he is a good person.”
Rashford is 18, as Kluivert was on his breakthrough against Milan, and he added: “I see how Rashford is playing and I see a little bit how people think we have some comparison.
“He’s quick, he’s good in the air, he scores easily. He was thrown into the deep end and he succeeded, he survived.
“I hope he can succeed with [Anthony] Martial and Depay and if they really can focus on the game the future of Manchester United will be very bright.”