It’s been a winter of discontent. The groans of disappointment and murmurs of mutiny that echoed all over Old Trafford was audible for most parts of Manchester United’s labored 1-0 win against CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League.
Frustrating chants of, “Attack, attack, attack” caused a slight flicker of life in United’s play. However, the team relapsed into a familiarly comfortable and predictable torpor that has been United’s play this season.
Ian Ladyman of Daily Mail summed up the current state of Van Gaal’s tenure; Players don’t trust him, fans don’t like him and opponents don’t fear him
As a fourth successive draw beckoned, manager Louis Van Gaal swapped Anthony Martial for Marouane Fellaini in a baffling substitution that drew reprimanding boos from the Old Trafford faithful.
And although Wayne Rooney’s 90th minute winner elicited a sigh of relief, there remains an abiding sense of dissatisfaction at what Manchester United has become under Van Gaal.
After investing £250m in the purchase of players over the last 3 transfer windows, you wouldn’t be labeled greedy if you expect something more attractive than the bare pickings being served by the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager.
It is almost insulting to the ethos, brilliance and beauty of the aforementioned duo to mention Van Gaal in the same sentence. But because Louis Van Gaal’s supreme efforts at making the Theatre of Dreams live to its name; sending fans to sleep via boring football, rumors are already rife that he would be axed soon.
Just that the Glazer family and Ed Woodward aren’t as trigger happy as the Russian billionaire. So while they fiddle, here is a tidy list of 5 names who could replace Van Gaal.
Ryan Giggs– The Welshman, the most decorated player in Manchester United history, is currently the assistant to Louis Van Gaal. The Dutch manager has not hidden his desire to have Giggs replace him at the expiration of his contract in 2017. Only that, that retirement may have to be brought forward, if the Red Devils’ dismal form continues unabated. Apart from Giggs’ current position, he managed United in a caretaker capacity after the sack of David Moyes. Under him, Manchester United played 4 matches, winning 2, drawing 1 and losing 1. A fans’ favorite, having spent his entire career at Old Trafford, he represents the kind of in-house solution that Barcelona would adopt without missing. Unfortunately, majority of Manchester United’s fans, with palate dulled surfeit with years of trophy-laden success would rather a manager with a proven track record and an impressive resume. It does help if you have won the Champions League as it automatically elevates you into an exclusive company with Alex Ferguson, the darling who led United through their most successful period.
Carlo Ancelotti – And Ancelotti has done that. Thrice. With AC Milan and Real Madrid, the latter their 10th European crown. Currently on a sabbatical, the suave Italian’s case for the plum job is also helped by the fact that he has also tasted English football, when he managed Chelsea between 2009 and 2011, winning the club’s first League and Cup double in 2010. He has class and clout, the right ingredients needed to restore confidence in a once well feared team as well as attract the continent’s finest talents. He’d certainly prove a capable hand if hired.
Pep Guardiola – One of the hottest properties in world football right now, Guardiola is that manager that every club fan would wish is managing their team. Having enjoyed a successful career as a player with Barcelona, he plundered arguably far more success as a coach, winning every trophy available for competition and credited with nurturing the game’s finest player, Lionel Messi. It is reported that the Catalan has refused to renew his contract and with the Premier League, the Mecca for anyone wishing to showcase his talents in present-day football, beckoning, he might just be tempted to come to Old Trafford. That is if Ed Woodward and co don’t dither and allow their noisy city neighbors, Manchester City steal a march on his coveted signature. Two things are sure with Guardiola if signed; trophies and a giving youths a chance.
Jose Mourinho – The antithesis of the balding Catalan. Jose Mourinho is one of the best coaches in world football right now and many clubs would give an arm and a leg to have him, never mind his rabble-rousing antics. For those close to the Portuguese tactician, he is revered by those he has worked with due to his incredible attention to detail and his premium man-management style, ignore the chaos he left at Real Madrid and Chelsea, excusable blots on an otherwise impressive resume that has seen him win the Champions League as well as League titles in Spain, Italy, Portugal and England. His undying passion and life-long ambition to manage United is a plus and could end up endearing him to the fans. However his nomadic career, summarized by his infamous 3-year cycle as well as his scant regard for youth may scuttle any chance of installing him in the Manchester United dug-out. It was famously reported that he was bypassed for the plum job by the United hierarchy when Alex Ferguson left in 2009 in favor of David Moyes. Hurt then, he might not care if he is given the job this time around.
Gary Neville – The least likely of the 5 to be handed the reins to manage one of Europe’s biggest clubs, his only claim to management comes from being the assistant manager of the English national team. Apart from working with Roy Hodgson, he has virtually no experience at managing a club, not to talk of a club the size of Manchester United. Indeed he was also part of Ferguson’s golden generation that won a clutch of trophies. However, stranger things have happened in football and appointing Gary Neville as Red Devils manager falls within that category.