David Moyes is neck deep in the brown stuff and if he loses tonight at home to Olympiakos, he may as well stay in bed on Thursday. If Manchester United do decide to swing the axe, who’s on Unibet’s list of favourites to replace him? Iain Macintosh takes a peek...
1. Sir Alex Ferguson (4.50)
Could history repeat itself? After a botched succession and a dramatic deterioration in form, could the club turn to its departed legend for stability? You wouldn’t want to be in that dressing room if they did. Having hung his hat on Moyes last summer, you wouldn’t expect Ferguson to be at all impressed with the performances of his former players. They’ve made him look silly, they’ve allowed people to suggest that he was at least partly to blame for the team’s decline. That hairdryer would soon be back in action. But would Ferguson take the risk with his reputation? And would it even be a miracle cure? Remember what happened when Sir Matt Busby returned to the dug-out in 1970 after Wilf McGuinness’s struggles? United crashed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, blew a League Cup semi-final second leg away at Aston Villa, lost almost a third of their remaining league games and trudged over the line in eighth place.
2. Louis van Gaal (6.00)
He’s already described England as, “the next step in my career,” but the notoriously grumpy Van Gaal had appeared to be bound for Tottenham Hotspur. He’s certainly got the pedigree to manage United, having won a league title with every club side he’s ever managed. He created the great Ajax side of the 1990s, won two titles in three years with Barcelona, took AZ Alkmaar to the Dutch league in 2009 and helped clear up the mess left by Jurgen Klinsmann at Bayern Munich in 2009, a scenario not dissimilar to the one at Old Trafford now. The only blot on his copybook was his failure to reach the 2002 World Cup with his own nation, something he’s been able to make up for in his second spell with the Netherlands. He’s proven, , he’s strong-willed, he won’t cost a penny in compensation and he’ll continue the Old Trafford tradition of being rude to journalists
3. Jurgen Klopp (5.00)
United’s supporters would certainly be pleased with the appointment of the ebullient German coach, but would he actually want to leave Borussia Dortmund? Klopp only signed a new, four and a half year contract in October and described himself as being, “a little bit in love,” with them. No wonder. Having inherited a club traumatised by a brush with financial oblivion and a team that had just finished 13th, three seasons later he led them to the first of two consecutive Bundesliga titles. In Dortmund, Klopp has a club he knows inside-out, the adoration and patience of 80,000 supporters and a squad packed with quality. In Manchester, Klopp would have a rebuilding job, instant pressure and Tom Cleverley. That said, there will surely come a time when Klopp will tire of having his best players sprited away by Bayern Munich. Maybe a new challenge would be welcomed?
4. Ryan Giggs (10.00)
Ryan Giggs was supposed to be the link between the old and the new at Manchester United, but according to the influential fanzine Red Issue, it’s not really worked out like that. The club has vehemently denied suggestions of a falling-out between Moyes and the Welshman, but Giggs made nine league appearances before New Year but has only made two since, and it’s not like the team has been performing brilliantly in his absence. Giggs’ appointment would certainly please the romantics in the Old Trafford support, but would it really be a wise decision to hand over control of one of the greatest clubs on the planet to a man with absolutely zero managerial experience purely because he was a great player? Advocates of Giggs might tell you to ask Pep Guardiola how it worked out for him. Cynics would direct you immediately to Alan Shearer.
5. Fabio Capello (12.00)
If you believe that United’s problems are the fault of the players, then there’s only one choice for instant retribution. Never mind the velvet glove, Capello has an iron fist in an iron gauntlet and it’s clutching an iron bar. His tenure as England coach will be remembered for the wretched displays in South Africa, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he brought order and coherence to the side after Steve McClaren’s struggles and qualified for two successive tournaments with ease. Now with Russia, he’s continued in much the same vein. His new team performed strongly in World Cup qualifying, with the exception of an inexplicable defeat to Northern Ireland, and are expected to progress from the group they share with Belgium, South Korea and Algeria. At 67, he’s not much younger than Ferguson, but perhaps this is his last, big club challenge.