Another turgid home display from Manchester United brought with it the usual chants of ‘attack, attack, attack’ from the impressively patient terraces of Old Trafford. However, it also brought with it a chorus of boos from those who have been subjected to fewer goals than any other home support in the whole of the 92.
What was more poignant, however, was the resignation from the Louis van Gaal that the fans had every right to boo. He looked a man slowly coming to realise that there was little he could do to stop the growing surge against him. In all honesty, his departure looks imminent.
Neil Ashton’s story in the Daily Mail claims that senior players at the club have now totally lost faith in the manager. He also points out that Ed Woodward has canvassed said players for their opinions on the current methods being used at the club and is preparing to call time on the former Bayern and Barcelona boss’ tenure.
The article then goes on to explain that the man he wants to step up to the plate and take charge is none other than Ryan Giggs. Until the end of the season at least.
Something about the set up on the red side of Manchester has never quite seemed right ever since Van Gaal took the reins. It appeared, but was never confirmed, that the 64-year-old was given an ultimatum when he got the job. You have to take Giggs under your wing.
He was forced to welcome the United legend into his backroom staff, even if he didn’t necessarily want him. While keeping a club legend as part of the coaching team was crucial in terms of Man United’s DNA, it wasn’t exactly the best way for Van Gaal to start, he was immediately compromised.
Even on match days the ex-Netherlands boss seems to lean more on the men he brought to the club with him, rather than the Premier League’s most successful ever player. Giggs can look a spare part at times. A man shackled but itching to lead from the front.
The Red Devils legend has been in this position before. Holding the fort after the departure of David Moyes on an interim basis. The issue here is that the Welshman does not wish to be put in that position again. He wants the gig, but he wants it for real.
From the 42-year-old’s perspective it is totally understandable. Why would he not want the job full-time? He doesn’t want to become the man they parachute in to plug the holes until they can find a ‘better option’. Giggs wants the job and he wants to be backed with a transfer kitty that will give him the chance to restore the club to former glories.
Talk is that the Old Trafford board are torn between Giggs and Jose Mourinho. Two wildly contrasting options. But for me, the choice is simple, give it to Jose.
Yes, the appointment of Giggs would be popular with many of the fans, it would lift the mood around the club and it may have an immediate bounce effect on results, but to back a man with so little managerial experience at one of the biggest clubs in the world could be a disaster.
Is now the time for the board to be taking massive gambles? Most definitely not.
The Cardiff-born candidate has only ever presided over four games of football as a number one. His interim spell was a free hit. No one was ever going to criticise him or analyse his performance or that of his team. Not with any great meaning or detail anyway. It allowed him to use youngsters and experiment a little. You can’t do that with a 38 game season in front of you when you’re trying to reinvigorate a football club.
Many people would look to Barcelona and say that in Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique they have developed a model for many clubs to follow. They would compare the potential appointment of Giggs to that of Guardiola, or maybe even that of Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.
The glaring difference here is that both Pep and Zizou stepped out of the limelight and dropped down to work with the club’s B teams, cutting their teeth in the lower leagues, before being given the opportunity to take on the big job. That experience is invaluable.
It would be difficult for Giggs to do the same. Reserve teams in England cease to exist and the U21 matches are nowhere near as competitive as the games that the two aforementioned footballing legends oversaw in Spain before ascending to their premierships.
Another key difference is the situation in which Manchester United find themselves. Guardiola came into the Barca job and took over a squad that had won the Champions League only 18 months or so previous. The pieces of his jigsaw were already there. He had Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Messi etc. It took incredible foresight and skill to develop his team but he had the raw materials. Man United require a massive overhaul.
As for Zidane at Real Madrid. The quality of players at his disposal means that he is guaranteed a top three finish, no matter what he does. That is the situation in La Liga. In England the current situation determines that United aren’t even guaranteed a top six finish, never mind a Champions League place.
The Barcelona model has also thrived because the men at the helm have left Cataluna in some manner. Guardiola went to Italy, Qatar and Mexico as a player, and he places a strong emphasis on this shaping his footballing ethos. He learned different ways of thinking, allowing him to approach games and ideas in different ways.
The current boss at the Camp Nou went one step further by managing both Roma and Celta Vigo before returning ‘home’.
Giggs knows nothing other than Man United. In some aspects that is fantastic. He understands the club, the supporters and the way they simply have to play. But an insular mind set can sometimes stagnate ideas and make it hard to see things from another perspective. If that is the case then it could be a disaster for both the man and the club.
Read Adrian Clarke on why Ryan Giggs should leave Manchester United
Then comes the problem of failure. The last two managerial appointments have not worked. What if Giggs were to prove inadequate? It would create an awkward atmosphere around the club. He would most likely be given more time than most, as would be earned by his legendary status.
However, that could serve to create massive issues. It could leave supporters and the board backing a manager out of his depth. It could, in fact, make things even worse.
Ryan Giggs will no doubt one day be manager of the great footballing institution that is Manchester United. But for now, it is too soon. This is not the time for a romantic stab in the dark.