By Paul Clennam
Interim Manchester United boss Ryan Giggs organised a special get-together at Carrington on Sunday as the club make preparations to announce Louis van Gaal as the club’s new permanent manager.
As Goal reported in April, Van Gaal has agreed a deal to take charge at Old Trafford after his World Cup commitments with Netherlands, with an official announcement expected within the next 10 days.
And with the season drawing to a close and the curtain coming down on his short tenure as David Moyes' successor, Giggs brought the entire squad, staff and loved ones together at the training ground in what appeared a symbolic end to the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
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It is thought that Van Gaal is keen to bring in his own backroom staff upon his appointment, something that Giggs in particular is aware of, as referenced in his pre-match press conference last Friday.
"I'm here until the end of the season," he said. "I have a lot to think about."
The mood at Sunday's get-together, however, was more celebratory than mournful, with the relaxed atmosphere that has been in effect since Giggs took over in full swing.
The Welshman, who has been with the club for over 25 years, was temporarily installed as Moyes' successor back in April and Goal understands he has the full backing of the staff within Carrington to take the job on a permanent basis.
But with Van Gaal's appointment thought to be imminent, Sunday’s fun-day was seen by some as the last time this group of players and staff will be together informally before the summer, when the World Cup and holidays are likely to coincide with a wholesale change of personnel.
The event was, therefore, seen as a 'goodbye' to the Sir Alex Ferguson era - a time that saw United sweep aside all before them, winning 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies during an unprecedented period of success.
Ferguson himself was not present at Carrington on Sunday although he did make an appearance at the club's training ground earlier in the week, where he has been absent ever since Moyes was initially trusted with the job at Old Trafford.
Manchester United face Hull City on Tuesday night in the last home game of the season, ahead of a final-day trip to Southampton.
It appears all but certain that United will end the season in seventh – outside of the European places and with their worst ever points tally in a Premier League season.