I have to say that there is something quite romantic about Manchester United over recent days. The idea of the Class of 92 digging their club out of trouble and taking the reigns. It almost resembles a classroom that has overthrown an inadequate supply teacher and now the students are in charge. From experience, the class is always then given a much stricter ruler.
Since Tuesday’s sacking, all we’ve seen and heard from potential candidates is certain distancing tactics, coupled with an insistence of happiness at each of their respective clubs. Of course, this can be put down to professionalism. You wouldn’t want to do a Harry Redknapp and declare yourself a shoe-in when actually you’re destined for a relegation battle would you?
It may well be that the general pessimism of this campaign has engulfed me, but I can’t help but feel that there is perhaps more to it than not wanting to upset your current chairman.
I fully back the belief that the United job is a much more attractive prospect this May than it was last. But it also symbolises a real risk. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the board are apparently continuing to work on deals without a manager in place. It will look a much more attractive prospect to top bosses around Europe if the new recruits have already agreed to join.
Old Trafford can quite easily tarnish a manager’s career. Plus, it can do it in no time at all. So that’s why we need to select the first man to raise his head over the parapet.
If anyone on the club’s shortlist suggests that United is the club they want to manage next, then the board must act immediately and decisively to get their man. Why? Because the club needs a brave and confident man at the helm. The names that have been mentioned thus far are largely promising, and should have been the ones they were looking at last summer. All of them have pros and cons, but all of them, crucially, are winners.
We can’t have another Cesc Fabregas. The club cannot relentlessly chase a target, regardless of how good he is, when they clearly aren’t going to get him and then have to settle for a Fellaini. So if Jurgen Klopp says he doesn’t want to come, as much as I’d love to see him at Old Trafford, we need to move on and look elsewhere.
Today we’ve seen Carlo Ancelotti distance himself from the job also. I would have been surprised had he done anything else considering the competitions Real Madrid remain in. If Ancelotti is to be the next manager, the board will have to be patient and see if he keeps his job this summer. That’s too much of a risk in my mind.
Then we come to Louis van Gaal. It would be a good fit in my opinion. He’s a disciplinarian, something which the dressing room badly needs right now. We can’t have someone coming into the job saying ‘I’m so happy to be here’. It needs to be, ‘I deserve to be here’. He carries a reputation, a proven track record and a confidence befitting of a Manchester United manager.
But he’s not a long term option.
Fundamentally, that’s not a particular problem for me. I feel the club needs someone to come in and grab the players by the scruff of the neck and van Gaal is capable of doing that. Even if he is only there for three or four years, it allows him time to bring the club back to the level it once was, which then would lead to some of the most talented managers in the world dreaming of the call to be United boss rather than dreading it.
If long term really is the desire of the board this time round then a possibility is Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid. He’s a young, strong manager, with the kind of fiery personality that the club can thrive off of. You’re talking about a man who picked his current club from the realms of a relegation battle and in three short years has led them to a Europa League and a Copa del Rey. Add into that equation that he is on the verge of winning La Liga this year and is in the Champions League semi-finals, you’ll see why I think he could fit the bill.
I believe he is extremely attainable also. When asked about the potential job, he responded by refusing to comment. It wasn’t a rejection, just a polite pause. You’re also looking at a club that, despite all their aforementioned recent accolades, are already planning for life without their best player. Not many clubs can sell Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa and still improve. But Atletico carry a confidence that is admirable and they will believe that parting with Simeone, although a blow, won’t be impending doom.
The truth of the matter is that whoever United select, it will be a risk. They have to succeed as the room for failure has well and truly been blown out of the window. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that United will go for van Gaal in the hope of stability being brought to the club, making it a much more attractive prospect for managers like Guardiola and Klopp in the future. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see Simeone installed as boss.
Whoever it is, he’s got a job on his hands. An incredible job, but my goodness, a tough one.