Whoever becomes the new manager of Manchester United, he must have two aspects of United’s DNA- pedigree and philosophy- features that Moyes never had. The candidate must have a track record of winning, and must embrace the club’s attacking, exciting ethos. Moyes, with an empty CV, understood the culture of the club but could not adapt to it as it was not natural to him.
The wrong decision made primarily by Sir Alex Ferguson has been righted and ended a painful chapter of our illustrious history. The equally damaging fact however is that in appointing Moyes we missed the chance to appoint better candidates who are now unavailable. Pep Guardiola will not leave Bayern, Carlo Ancelotti unlikely to depart Madrid and Jose Mourinho, who should have been selected especially after desperately wanting the job, will not allow us to be so sloppy.
Like many, Jurgen Klopp would be my ideal manager and it is understandable for him to quash rumours of a departure when his season is still resting on a cup final against Bayern. Klopp is adventurous and innovative, favours attacking football and, in what would surely appease the Glazers, can work on a budget. Dortmund are a selling club and he has been able to continue to be successful despite losing his best players to his main rival. Whilst we are not a selling club, there have been instances when we have been outbid for players, such as Hazard, and we did sell the best player in the world Ronaldo just as he had approached his peak.
One man who has not had to work with such financial restrictions is Carlo Ancelotti. He would bring real pedigree, boasting both English and European success. It is very unlikely for him to leave Madrid, especially if they win in Europe, meaning that he is much more unavailable than last year, when he wasn’t even in the realistic running for the job.
A man who also was barely mentioned last year was Louis van Gaal, arguably due to his commitment to Holland. Van Gaal would definitely bring pedigree and be comfortable with United’s philosophy. He has a tradition of playing attacking ‘total’ football with trust in youngsters. Though out of club football for a couple of years, he boasts a CV that cannot be rivalled by many. Another reason why he would be an ideal candidate is his strict discipline of players through fear. When justifying a substitution at Bayern Munich, Van Gaal dropped his trousers to prove that he had balls, making Fergie’s half-time hairdryer seem like a breath of fresh air.
The argument that Van Gaal would only last a few years due to his age, echoing the claim last year that Mourinho would leave after a while, should be shunted immediately after we have sacked a man who was supposed to be here for six years. A possible negative could be the impact it has on the Rooney-Van Perise partnership. Moyes decided that he would build his team on Rooney, and whilst this benefited Rooney who carried us on many occasions, it was to the detriment of Van Persie. Would Van Gaal be tempted to build a team around his compatriot Van Persie, and would this limit the success of Rooney? And this could be a gamble on a player who has had fitness problems and on the wrong side of thirty.
Though succeeding in cup competitions domestically, both Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte seem like a good fit for the club they are at, after playing for Athletico Madrid and Juventus respectively, and might not necessarily be able to transfer this to another club. Marcelo Bielsa taught us a footballing lesson with Athletic Bilbao in 2012 but could the Argentine cope with a January night in Stoke?!
After the failure of a man who was ‘cut from the same cloth’ as his predecessor, United may be tempted to look beyond men who have Premiership experience. Michael Laudrup enjoyed cup success whilst playing attractive football for Swansea but his premature departure means that he is a big outsider. From those currently in the Premiership, only Roberto Martinez seems a realistic choice. Sunday proved how Martinez has revolutionised the ambitions of Everton from being a team content with sixth or seventh to a positive, forward-thinking club. Surely, we could not take from Everton again. Or what are the odds on their Merseyside rivals? Though it may be difficult to see Gerrard lifting the trophy (if won), even the most biased United fan would struggle to deny that Rodger’s team has played exciting football. The transfer of him to United though would be hugely unlikely and is surely too controversial to consider.
Finally there is the interim. It is easy to imagine winning the next four games and then most people demanding that Ryan Giggs is appointed on a permanent basis. From trainee to manager, it would be one for the romantics. It also makes some sense to argue that, like with Barcelona’s Cruyff and Guardiola, a player with such a specific culture embedded into their system could make the switch to management swiftly. He would definitely tick the ‘philosophy’ box.
There are other ex-players who would fully understand the philosophy. Gary Neville, articulate and passionate on television, is an integral part of the England coaching set up. Formed legends Roy Keane and Steve Bruce would argue that they know enough about the ethos of the team, though both have struggled at Sunderland so surely couldn’t cope at United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not experienced yet to take over.
Inexperience is also the key problem for Giggs. He may be the most decorated player in English football but great players do not always make great managers- Bobby Charlton being the most apt example. Great assistant managers do not always make great managers either so the appointment of Carlos Quiroz would be unwise as would the idea that Giggs could be assistant for a while and then make the step up. It would be more interesting to see Giggs managing the reserves for a while, or even another club, to see if he could really handle the step up to management.
There are many more candidates who would do a better job than Moyes has done. In Moyes’ defence, the position was always a poisoned chalice. Even Mourinho may have struggled to replace Ferguson, especially considering his surprise losses in the league recently. Overall though, the decision has been made. There is no need for a post-mortem. Put simply, Moyes was out of his depth because he could not embrace the DNA of Manchester United. The next manager, whoever he is, must have a pedigree and feel comfortable with the philosophy of the club.