Alright? No. Me either. This absolutely sucks. Our defeat yesterday made it six games without a win. Three draws preceded three defeats. Our next two games being Stoke away on Boxing Day and Chelsea at home a couple of days later doesn’t fill me with confidence. It looks bleak. Six could turn into eight. But sacking isn’t the answer.
I believe the clamour the manager’s head is a symptom of the want it now generation, the sense of entitlement that Manchester United fans feel after witnessing such incomparable success under Sir Alex. Patience and hard work are shunned and there is demand for instant sweeping success, that is just plainly unrealistic.
If we were to sack LVG tomorrow morning, let’s say, that mean appointing our 4th manager in 2.5 years. It sets a precedent that simply does not work. I watched Manchester City go through 9 managers in the 90’s they ended up in the bottom tier of English Football. Madrid in the 2000’s churned over 10 managers, winning a couple of league titles, but the team that contained such legends as Zidane, Beckham, Brazilian Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Raul, Figo, that’s a huge under performance. Especially when Barcelona weren’t quite at this current peak. We’ll not end up like City. But we could do what Madrid did. Would it be worth it to win a couple of titles and maybe one champions league? I think some would argue it is. But I do not want to see our club do that.
In history Louis Van Gaal has done two things. First one is build teams capable of long term success, by instilling something in the foundation of their coaching set up and youth development that leads to great, long term success. The other thing he has done is piss absolutely everyone off, from the board, to the fans, to the media. He’s clearly an abrasive personality. That, I believe is ultimately what gets him sacked. People already do not like him, so when results go bad, the press put a turbo boost on it and those who he’s burnt at the club demand action. But what he has done is undeniable, he’s also had 3 of the games current top level managers working under and learning from him in Pep, Jose and Koeman.
My defence of Van Gaal isn’t a pure, blinkered defence of a man I have met, but barely exchanged a word with, I simply feel that the job of transforming Manchester United football CLUB, from the one formed almost entirely in the image of one man is going to take a lot more than 18 months. Even Moyes was said to be shocked at the state of some aspects of our backroom. But it is the on-field performances are where he is ultimately tried, not in dealings with the press, not in dealings with board members, but results. Which are poor, right now, and cannot be defended, so I won’t. Individually, you can dissect and in some games almost excuse, but as a collective, that chunk of six matches cannot be defended. But that doesn’t automatically mean sack the guy. It just means he better sort his shit out and quick, because if six becomes eight, or ten, then there’s clearly no way back and I am certain we’ll be parting ways.
I also back the man because there is no obvious candidate. I don’t know enough of Simeone, but I feel he would be a good choice based on what I do know. Ancelotti another, but we all know where he is going. That leaves 3 names that people have spoken about at length.
Guardiola, no thank you. Not for the job we need doing. Undoubtedly a world class coach, but I think there is enough evidence that this man hasn’t the stomach or ability for a fight, which as Manchester United manager you’ll have to do. You’ll be fighting the press from day one. The pressure and expectation of (allegedly) 600m world-wide fans. You’ll be fighting with our own press and commercial departments for the players time off and sponsors commitments, you’ll be fighting in a league where realistically more than two teams can win the title and you’ll be doing it without the brilliance of Leo Messi and that wonderful Bayern Munich side. Maybe he can do it. But there’s no evidence of it. He has been incredibly fortunate in his appointments thus far. If he could turn United into a similar side then his legacy would be unquestionable. But we all know he’s very likely to go to city, where he will find a project around 90-95% complete and he’ll probably be successful. Because he loves the easy ride. In 3 years or so as Barca manager he won the lot, and off the field Mourinho absolutely bullied him, aged him 10 years in that time and he walked away. I question the bottle of a man who walks away from a side called the greatest ever after only a couple of years. If he can do that to the team he supports, he can do so easier anywhere else.
Mourinho. Born winner. Best manager in world football. Guaranteed success. Is what I’ve heard said about the man sacked for having his reigning champions side one point above relegation. Mourinho’s only redeeming factor was that he had some crazy ability to turn his home ground into a fortress. He’s brought success wherever he’s gone, but I think in a similar way to Van Gaal he is such an abrasive character that he falls out with everyone, he cannot stay longer than 2-3 years because he pisses absolutely everyone off. Those who claim LVG doesn’t play the ‘United way’ who also want Mourinho in, are just mental cases. This is the guy who was about to be crowned champions last April and parked the bus against United at HOME. Those who claim his Madrid side weren’t boring, also fail to mention that he had Ronaldo. Who was worth a goal a game for being on the team sheet. We do not. His record with youth is one that as a massive fan of our young players coming through, I simply cannot stomach. But one thing everyone jumping all over this bandwagon is failing to see is that he was sacked for delivering the worst defence of a title there has been. If he was such a good manager, why can he not turn it around? The players aren’t playing for him? Why is that an excuse for Mourinho but not one for Van Gaal?
Giggs. Giggs has 4 games experience. He won 2 of those. He’s also been a member of staff in two disastrous managerial tenures. I get the fairy tale. The romantic in me would love an ex-player stood on the touchline pushing young players to do what he did as a player on the same turf. But there’s zero evidence it’ll work. In fact, there’s more evidence it will not work. He’s a vastly experienced man in the narrowest possible sense. He really needs to go and gain that experience. Even taking the U18s or U21s would give him more than he’s just got.
In summary, I don’t want to see a change of manager right now, but I am conflicted, as I do think we NEED a change of some sort. I text a mate who hadn’t seen the game after the match and told him it was exactly what we’d seen for the last few weeks, tons of possession but unable turn it into goals. I don’t know how this is fixed, but I do not think sacking Van Gaal is the answer. As long as he keeps us qualifying for Champions League’s he’ll be safe. I just hope we’ve started work on his ultimate replacement already. Biggest job in world football and we are seeing just how hard it is right now.