Why Manchester United Could Be Making a Grave Mistake Yet Again

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Why Manchester United Could Be Making a Grave Mistake Yet Again
Jon Super

At the weekend Old Trafford celebrated its own liberation. 

The painful and oppressive David Moyes regime had finally been overthrown, and Ryan Giggs and the Class of '92 were now in power and paraded as conquering heroes.

On the pitch Manchester United roused themselves enough to get past a doomed Norwich City, and suddenly the atmosphere around Old Trafford felt almost optimistic.

The sight of a suited Giggs applauding the crowd on his journey from the tunnel to the dugout brought goosebumps to even the most hardened United fans in the stands.

It looks and sounds right: Ryan Giggs, Manchester United manager.

There is now a growing movement behind Giggs being handed the manager's job at Old Trafford on a permanent basis.

This would be a mistake.

I bow to no one in my admiration for Ryan Giggs the footballer and have also known Giggs the man for more than 16 years, having interviewed him many times. 

He will certainly become a fine manager, but this summer is too early, and the danger is the United board could get swept up in this wave of romanticism and hand him control. 

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

This is what happened last year; romanticism clouded United's judgement, and they ended up with the wrong man.

The hope then was David Moyes possessed the same strength of character and steely determination as Sir Alex Ferguson, and he would keep alive the lineage of great Scottish managers.

It blinded United to the fact Moyes had only a modest record as a manager, had never won anything, had no Champions League experience and no understanding of working with big-name players.

Moyes proved to be more out of his depth that even his greatest skeptic could have imagined when he was appointed last May.  

And so a year later to appoint a manager with far less experience than even Moyes would be a monumental risk.

The hope is Giggs would prove to be Manchester United's Pep Guardiola; steeped in the club's history, he would effortlessly move from the pitch to the dugout. 

It is always worth remembering Guardiola had already coached Barcelona’s B team for a season before becoming manager at the Nou Camp, but, crucially, he inherited Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, a triumvirate of players it would have been almost impossible to fail with.

In contrast, Giggs would inherit a squad possessing the more mundane talents of Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini.

Manchester United need stability, not another gamble.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The hard truth for United is the list of candidates to succeed Moyes is surprisingly barren.

If the clamour to appoint Giggs is resisted, it appears increasingly likely United will turn to the Holland manager Louis van Gaal.

Van Gaal has everything Moyes didn't; pedigree, trophies and Champions League experience, but is he really the best appointment United could make?

Last year United chose from the second tier of managers with Moyes, and it wouldn’t be too harsh to say the Everton manager was actually from the third tier.

In their search for a new manager, United cannot afford to cast their eyes beneath the top tier again.

In 2014, does Louis van Gaal really belong in the top tier of managers?

Van Gaal's CV is highly impressive; he was once the best, but the bulk of his success came in a different century. 

It had been reported Van Gaal was headed to Tottenham before the Old Trafford position became available, and White Hart Lane possibly looks a better fit: a second-tier manager for a second-tier club.

It needs to be asked: If Van Gaal is such a good appointment for United, why was he not mentioned at all this time last year when Ferguson retired?

The Dutchman earned his reputation in the 1990s, his greatest work occurring at Ajax and Barcelona. In the last 15 years, he has won just three trophies.

But let's be clear that Van Gaal could be a success at Old Trafford.

His achievements would automatically command respect in the dressing room; players who thought Moyes was beneath them would now be intrigued to work with a coach who has lured the best out of a roll call of elite European players over the last 20 years, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xavi, Clarence Seedorf, Frank Rijkaard, Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm, Thomas Mueller, Rivaldo and Luis Figo.

The extended lull in Van Gaal's career after he left Barcelona for the first time in 2000 has recently been overcome, and those three trophies—a Dutch title, a German title and Cup double, as well as a Champions League final appearance in 2010 with Bayern Munich—came within the last five years.

Matt Dunham

But Van Gaal can still not claim to be one of the best managers in the world, a title that instead belongs to Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and the young upstart Jurgen Klopp. These men guarantee success. 

None of Guardiola, Mourinho and Klopp are currently available comes the defeatist reply, but this is football and nothing is impossible, especially when it comes to securing a manager.

This is Manchester United; they need the best, especially now.

The idea of appointing Giggs should be banished, while thoughts of handing control to Van Gaal should be treated with caution.

A year ago United stubbornly refused to go after the very best; it would be a grave mistake if they repeated that approach.

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