Swallowing some bitter medicine may prove the cure to Manchester United’s managerial woes

Despite his link to hated City, Manuel Pellegrini may be Uniteds best option as its next manager
Don’t reject him out of hand.

Manchester United fans holding their breath in hopes the club would somehow persuade Pep Guardiola to manage in the same city as old Barça cohorts Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, but not the same club–myself included–can now go back to wistfully fantasizing about winning the lottery. Truth be told, the odds the vested Catalan vagabond would take charge at Old Trafford were probably longer than any of us choosing the correct six numbers and retiring to the French Riviera. Shortly after habitual lame-duck gaffer Manuel Pellegrini announced he and Man City had “mutually consented” to part ways at season’s end, it was confirmed Guardiola’s long-desired English project would be attempted alongside familiar faces at the Etihad. While the news may be depressing for many United faithful, especially with Louis van Gaal’s tenure proving to be a major disappointment and Carlo Ancelotti already confirmed as the next Bayern boss, there is a silver lining to this particular black cloud. There is now a viable alternative, in terms of highly qualified candidates, to José Mourinho as a prospective successor to Van Gaal.

Admittedly, it’s a sad state of affairs to be considering City’s castoffs for important positions in Manchester’s red half, rather than the other way around. While Denis Law, Mark Hughes, and Carlos Tevez popping up across town may have invoked outrage, it was at least complimentary for the noisy neighbors to commit the odd smash and grab when they became frustrated at being the sky-blue-headed stepchild. There isn’t enough Prozac in the world to compensate for the tables having turned.

Still, needs must, and the Chilean could be an ideal fit in the sense his interests and United’s are parallel. Red Devils supporters would be thrilled to put the Citizens “back in their place” and Pellegrini would love nothing better than to prove he isn’t a stop-gap manager. Remember, he led Real Madrid to their highest point total ever before being replaced by Jose Mourinho. Pellegrini’s Merengues didn’t win La Liga, as Guardiola’s Blaugrana had a monster season themselves, but the Special One wasn’t able to best Pep upon taking over, either. Mou had to wait until his second season.

Why hire a coach who hasn’t been able to beat Guardiola? Well, assuming one isn’t as infatuated with Mourinho as the man himself, there really isn’t anyone out there who has managed the trick. Pellegrini has at least proven he can win in the Premier League, if not as yet in the Champions League. Any issues with inconsistency can largely be put down to Sergio Kun Agüero and Vincent Kompany’s penchant for injury. Further, he conducts himself with a refreshingly quiet dignity. Two years under LvG have proven a horrifying combination of Sir Alex Ferguson’s less appealing side and David Moyes’ ineffectiveness. In bringing the Dutchman on board after his success with l’Oranje in Brazil, United thought they’d landed Dr Jekyll. Rather, surly behavior and ugly results have proven they’ve been saddled with Mr Hyde.

Louis van Gaal negative qualities havent been a positive for Manchester United.
LvG, like RL Stevenson’s overly ambitious doctor, has been an experiment gone horribly awry.

United have something City does not: a glorious history. Unfortunately, this generation’s supporters are just now discovering a fact–to regretfully use Rafa Benitez’s favorite word–Liverpool fans have understood for decades. History does not win trophies; it only provides dust for the ones already in the cabinet. While United’s tradition might ultimately be best served by hiring a club icon, whether any are prepared to step in is debatable. Pellegrini has publicly stated he isn’t ready to retire to national team management for another “three or four years” and would prefer to remain in the Prem. That would certainly give the likes of Gary Neville or Ryan Giggs sufficient time to gain valuable experience in charge. If they do not, the United board can follow City and Real Madrid’s examples, supplanting Pellegrini with the hottest property on the market. For the moment, however, it’s the Chilean who perches atop the list.

More Stories Gary Neville Louis van Gaal Man City Manchester United Manuel Pellegrini Old Trafford Pep Guardiola Real Madrid Ryan Giggs the etihad


  1. I like that you think laterally but I disagree strongly.

    What you’re not taking into account is perception.
    It’s the magic word that is central to football. Let’s say Pellegrini is better than Mourinho/Ancelotti/Guardiola, it’s futile. The perception out there is that he’s not that standard of a manager, so he AND United would be at a disadvantage. It’s the same with Moyes. If a world class footballer were available they would rather play under Guardiola, fullstop. In a world where United is at the mercy of the stock market, perception is everything. United, as far as the board of directors are concerned, need to re-establish their brand as a winning team, they’ve never won the league or any trophy since Ferguson left. The time for baseless risk ended when Moyes was kicked out. They need a tried and tested manager and there’s no better alternative than Jose Mourinho so I’m pretty sure it’ll either be Van Gaal or Jose in the hotseat. Sorry this is not 1986, the time for romanticism has come to an unfortunate end with all this capitalistic greed.

    1. I’m with Big Sam on perception. As for Mourinho, he’s hardly galvanized the last two clubhouses he oversaw, whereas Pellegrini is tried, tested, and not suffering from hoof-in-mouth disease. I’d say it’s more romantic to believe Mou can change his ways. Perhaps the best player in United’s most recent win was Juan Mata. Where would he or Ander Herrera, being like for like players, be in a Mourinho regime? Remember, Johnny Kills was Chelsea’s mvp before the Special One’s arrival.

  2. Great article, and I agree.

    Mourhino is just a bad fit, I really dont want to see him at OT, and chasing managerial hot property is a bad idea because we’d always come in second now that citeh have landed Pep, no matter who we went for.

    At first thought hiring blue cast offs is repugnant, but i’m actually coming round to the idea, its almost like saying “youve made a big mistake”, and it will add to the pressure on Pep if results don’t come for them immediately. I also like the idea of a bench warmer for Giggs or Neville, as that’s where I think our real future should lie, with someone who fully understands and has a deep passion for the club at the helm, someone who will dedicate their whole managerial career to us.

    For me, I’d rather get back to playing the United way than get straight back to winning trophies, if its a straight choice between the two. I’d definitely take playing exciting, expansive, attacking football whilst staying competitive and in the top 4 but missing out on silverware for a few years whilst we rebuild over straight back to winning trophies but having to sacrifice the very definition of a Manchester United team to do so.

  3. ” if its a straight choice between the two. I’d definitely take playing exciting, expansive, attacking football whilst staying competitive and in the top 4 but missing out on silverware for a few years whilst we rebuild over straight back to winning trophies but having to sacrifice the very definition of a Manchester United team to do so.”

    I’m no fan of Mourinho, but I always considered him pragmatic as opposed to defensive. The football chelski played for the first half of last season was exceptional! Also, the sole Real Madrid league title in the last 6/7 years , was won by Mourinho, with a team that outscored the endlessly revered Barcelona team.

  4. @dokgolf

    There are numerous of Mourhino adopting anti-football tactics in the Premier League, squeezing out wins, using a constant flat back 4 or their M-Shaped 5 at the back. In my opinion he is more widely recognised as a defensive rather than an attacking coach. The use of overlapping full-backs is certainly alien to him, which contrasts entirely with the United way.

    Having said that I dont think t’was always thus. Xavi once expressed surprise that Mou had abandoned his former attacking style once he arrived in the Premier league.

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