When David Moyes was sacked as manager of Manchester United, Ryan Giggs was an obvious option for caretaker manager.
He was, at least nominally, part of the existing coaching staff, had experience and knowledge of the club built on two decades of playing at United, and was also well respected by the players, fans and media.
After success against a dreadful Norwich City, some especially giddy United fans and others started to argue that it would be right, at the very least in a romantic sense, for Giggs to be given the job full-time. This is of course nonsense. Neither the success nor failure (against Sunderland) in the last two matches are any argument at all for Giggs to be considered or otherwise.
In fact, the reasons that he was the obvious person to take over in the interim are perhaps the strongest reasons for making sure he does not get the gig.
United have already seen one continuity candidate, Alex Ferguson’s Chosen One, become quickly overwhelmed as he dithered between overhauling the squad and ineffectively indulging or insulting the current squad. They do not need another one who struggles to cut the ties.
With Giggs apparently keen to convince the club to extend the contract of Rio Ferdinand, it demonstrates that a new man – one who sees things as they are, rather than as they were – should be given the job.
Ferdinand has played poorly all season, rarely been consistently fit, shown little leadership on or off the pitch in a miserable year, and spent more time causing trouble on Twitter than defending as he used to. With Michael Carrick, Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic, Anderson, Javier Hernandez, Luis Nani, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Antonio Valencia and Patrice Evra all having let down United and their manager in some form this year, with behaviour or performances, they do not need an old friend deciding whether or not they stay. If Giggs was, as he said, lacking sleep for worries about telling players they had been dropped for his first match, then to get rid of them entirely might have been beyond him.
Louis van Gaal, however, is able to take on senior players, and win. He is also looking at United as a dispassionate observer.
He had other jobs to consider, such as the same job at Tottenham Hotspur, and so is not affected by the sense of destiny associated with the Class of 92’s outlook. He has had the steel to drop a player as important as Rivaldo at Barcelona, and others since then. United need somebody to not just get rid of the deadwood, but to set fire to it and jump all over it.
Moyes was given a staggeringly easy ride in the press for most of his United career. He wasn’t portrayed as a root vegetable, nor was he painted as someone prone to paralysing indecision and ambivalence, which in hindsight and at the time, he clearly was.
The press will be ready to be far more vocal with a new manager, and United need somebody experienced at taking abuse in football. Van Gaal has had to deal with that at Bayern Munich, and in his time at Barcelona. He is a man with a healthy ego, and not likely to take the easy option to save face. United need this in the summer, and for the next season. Huge changes are needed.
If the 92 crew are lurking at the club, ready to put the knife into the new boss because they crave more influence, then United cannot appoint Giggs. He is too closely linked with Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Phil and Gary Neville to keep them from meddling.
Van Gaal, who wants to bring with him Patrick Kluivert as assistant manager, will not be afraid to tell them where, precisely, to go, and where, exactly, they can put their criticisms.
There’s also a fairly obvious reason why Giggs should not be given the job: he has never managed before.
People may point to Pep Guardiola as a precedent, but Guardiola had travelled the world to study and prepare for his career, all while playing in his thirties. Giggs knows only United and he knows only Ferguson - and it is Ferguson’s legacy that United are now trying to repair.
Van Gaal has, as manager, won the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He has won leagues in Holland, Spain and Germany, two of which are amongst the most demanding leagues in Europe.
The Manchester United vacancy is the biggest job in football going right now, and one of the biggest jobs in football at any time. It is not time to give anyone a chance to learn on the job.
Moyes has proven that, and it is not time to let Giggs prove it again.
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