Former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson has insisted Ryan Giggs can succeed as Pep Guardiola did at Barcelona and is the obvious successor to Louis van Gaal as Red Devils manager.
Giggs retired from playing at United in 2014 and was installed as Van Gaal's assistant manager soon after the Dutchman took up the top job at Old Trafford.
After a 2015-16 campaign that has been largely underwhelming, Van Gaal's position is in significant danger, and there have been calls to replace the former Ajax and Barcelona boss with Jose Mourinho, per MailOnline's Jack Gaughan.
However, Robson believes Giggs could emulate Guardiola—who had enormous success at Barcelona as a manager having been a Camp Nou stalwart as a player—and should be chosen to succeed Van Gaal, per Ken Lawrence in the Sun:
Ryan really can be the Pep Guardiola of United, I am sure of it.
Yes, he’s a quiet lad but that should make no difference.
He has always been a deep thinker on the game. He’s worked hard to get to this point.
They talk about Guardiola being intelligent and having a great football brain. Ryan is no different.
He just needs the chance to prove what he can do—once Louis van Gaal goes.
One of the main arguments against Giggs being given the United job is that he has no managerial experience—besides his interim spell as United boss following the sacking of David Moyes back in 2014.
However, Robson pointed to the experience he has gained under Van Gaal and the 26 years he spent playing under Sir Alex Ferguson as key influences, per Lawrence.
Equally, Guardiola had very little management experience before taking over from Frank Rijkaard at the Camp Nou—he had spent a year with the Barca B side—and he went on to win 14 trophies with the Blaugrana in just four seasons.
The Spaniard has continued his great success at Bayern Munich—winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles—and the confirmation that he will take over at Manchester City in the summer has led to many calls for United to appoint Mourinho in response, per Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp.
Robson is not keen on such a reactive response, though, and he believes United should stick to the initial plan of having Giggs take over from Van Gaal, per Lawrence:
It was always said that during Van Gaal’s time as manager Ryan would learn under him, get his pro-licence and be ready for the job.
That should still be the case. [...]
He represents Manchester United’s soul. He has been at the club since he was 13 and knows what is expected.
The owners will make their decision and, in terms of Mourinho, I know there have been rumours flying around.
But there is no stand-out person who could do the job any better than Ryan.
It would undoubtedly be a huge risk to appoint Giggs, and the comparison with Guardiola is hardly a direct one.
When Guardiola took over at Barca at the start of the 2008-09 season, the Catalans were still one of the best sides in Europe having made it to the Champions League semi-finals in the previous campaign—where they were knocked out by United, who went on to win the famous trophy.
Guardiola also had the likes of Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi in his squad.
United are a club still struggling to recover from the departure of Ferguson. They were knocked out of this season's Champions League at the group stages and are looking unlikely to qualify for next term's competition.
As noted by Bleacher Report's Dean Jones, Mourinho has the experience and the profile to boost United's prospects, at least in the short term:
That cannot be said of Giggs, and despite his immense playing experience, long-term attachment to the Manchester club and the backing of Robson, there is no guarantee the Welshman would succeed in the Old Trafford top job.