The best-kept secret in English football is out. David Moyes has been sacked and will no longer be forced to prowl the Old Trafford touchline, scowling and wincing in equal measure, as Manchester United’s season goes down the proverbial drain.
As with Sir Alex this time twelve months ago, soccer moves on relentlessly. Thoughts must now turn to Moyes’ inevitable successor at the Theatre of Dreams.
Here we will look at the runners and riders for the biggest job in English football and consider the criteria Manchester United fans would like the successful candidate to meet.
According to various media outlets and fan-blogs, to become the next manager of Manchester United he/she must;
1. Possess a proven track record in Europe
2. Command the respect of the players
3. Know the European transfer market and have contacts across the continent.
4. Have a strong emotional connection to the club, possibly through time as a player.
5. Look to develop players through the United youth system.
6. Sign the very best young talent in Europe.
7. Be in the market to compete for elite players.
8. Play expansive, high-tempo, attacking football.
9. Have a history of winning trophies.
10. Have worked at a big European club.
The bookies are suggesting some of the usual candidates. Let’s see how the top 5 measure up to the above criteria.
Louis Van Gaal
The current favorite and understandably so. The old-campaigner will lead the Dutch national team in Brazil but would offer a safe pair of hands and would probably halt any further decline at Old Trafford. At 62 he is by no means a long-term solution but his track record speaks for itself. He’s worked at three of the biggest clubs in Europe, winning the league at each. Would he bring back the football so desired by the United faithful? Probably not, though he would make them hard to beat – an improvement on Moyes, and would not tolerate the insipid displays from Young, Nani et al. Going forward, he will not reshape Manchester United and lead them for another decade or more.
VERDICT: If the Glazers want a short-term fix, they could do much worse than Van Gaal.
The thinking-man’s choice. Klopp has proved something of a maverick during his six-year spell at Borussia Dortmund. He speaks good English, plays a vibrant, highly energetic brand of football and has shown himself to be quite adept in the transfer market. Unearthing gems like Robert Lewandowski, Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels and Shinji Kagawa suggest he works well when the purse strings are tight. Like Moyes at Everton, Klopp accepts that Dortmund are a ‘selling club.’ Can he bring his transfer nous to a club that would not accept that moniker under any circumstances? In support, Klopp regularly bloods young talent and possesses experience at the very top of the European tree. His success in recent years can be seen as over achievement considering the resources at his disposal and having the Bayern behemoth for ‘noisy neighbors.’
VERDICT: Klopp would be a fine choice. But he ruled himself out of the job today.
The sentimental choice. The heart says ‘Yes!’ but the head screams ‘No!’ All fans prefer their manager to have a strong bond with their club, and no bond could be stronger than Giggs and United. At time of writing, the current interim manager of Manchester United knows the club; its history and traditions and would instantly command the respect of the dressing room. Despite all this, to risk a multi-million pound business in the hands of an unknown quantity with no managerial experience at any level would be fool-hardy. As much as Manchester United fans would will him (and his Class of 92’ coaching team) to succeed, facts generally speak for themselves. The most successful coaches in the Premier League era – Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho, Benitez – and the ‘up and comers’ like Rodgers and Martinez all hardly had playing careers to shout about. Giggs must earn his stripes lower down the leagues if he is to end up in the Old Trafford dugout
VERDICT: Come back and apply in 5-10 years. Alternatively take the global sporting brand ambassador job on offer
A fascinating character who is already achieving incredible things in Spain this season. His tenure at Atletico Madrid has seen European and domestic success without spending huge amounts of cash. To challenge and potentially disrupt the Barca-Real duopoly shows that in football, even today, money is not everything. His strong personality, bullish qualities, and emphasis on a high pressing, intense style of play could be grafted onto the United framework. Like Klopp, Simeone has enjoyed lower expectations, often competing as the under-dog in terms of finances and the ability to attract the best players. Could he adapt to the pressures of United? He was formed a formidable unit of unheralded Spanish players, and proven able to cope with the departures of Aguero, Falcao and De Gea and come out stronger. Language may be an issue, plus his knowledge and understanding of the Premier League. Atletico is very much his club, playing in his image. The question has to be, could Simeone make a player out of Tom Cleverley?
VERDICT: A bit of a risk. Could be brilliant, could be a dangerous experiment.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Football historians will know that when Sir Matt Busby retired, his handpicked replacement, Wilf McGuiness barely lasted a season, with Sir Matt returning in an interim capacity to help steady the ship. Could the same happen again? Ferguson remains close to the club as a director and is probably fit and healthy enough to work for at least one season. However, bringing back Sir Alex would be a step in the wrong direction. It would prevent any serious long-term planning taking place this summer and would continue to place his eventual successor under a huge Ferguson shaped cloud. United must move on from their most successful ever manager sooner or later and now is the time to do it. In addition, Ferguson would not want to harm his legacy any more than he already has by, like Busby, hand-picking Moyes as his successor. Though many fans will long for the security of Ferguson’s reign, United will never return to the top if they are looking back as opposed to forwards.
VERDICT: That way madness lies.
Klopp would be best choice, despite distancing himself from the job in early reports. What are your thoughts?