Things are happening. We have no announcement, yet, of Louis van Gaal or whoever else; nothing firmer than few journalists musing that something might be happening in the next couple of days. But the reconfiguration of the backroom staff is underway, according to the Daily Mail, and the first casualties are the last survivors of David Moyes's regime, goalkeeping coach Chris Woods and former United player and Class of '92 member Phil Neville.
According to the paper, both were informed that their contracts would be terminated shortly after the end of the game against Southampton. Ed Woodward broke the news, apparently, and then told Rio Ferdinand he was no longer needed either. This being the Mail, it naturally follows that the excisement of Neville has "sparked real anger" among "United personnel", though quite who isn't specified. If rumours throughout the season were to be believed, then Neville was hardly Mr. Popular with the players.
If Van Gaal is coming, then the departure of Woods makes a certain amount of sense; reports have generally been consistent in suggesting that he will bring his own man to handle the goalkeeping, Frans Hoek. The departure of Neville, for its part, tallies with reports across various papers that Rene Meulensteen, widely admired first-team coach under Alex Ferguson and recent managerial flop at Fulham, will be returning to Old Trafford. Which seems as good an excuse as any to revisit this wonderful story about what Meulensteen gets up to when he's in charge:
Meulensteen, according to [Per] Nielsen [of Brondby], prepared for a European tie against Frankfurt by standing in front of a whiteboard and asking his players to decide which animal they wanted to be. Nielsen went first, mostly to break the awkward silence, and asked to be a snake. Meulensteen did not like snakes. "Snakes are slow animals, we cannot have snakes in our defence, the Germans will outrun us." So Nielsen suggested a tiger. "That's perfect! Tigers are brave, fast and strong. That is exactly what we need from a captain." By the time he was finished, Meulsensteen had a crocodile, a fox, an elephant, a giraffe and pretty much half of Noah's Ark. "We are smart, fast and clever animals, we cannot lose." Nielsen remembers looking at the board and thinking: "We are sending an entire zoo on the field."
Start assigning animals to Manchester United players ... now.