Nothing can be added to the David Moyes sacking saga that hasn’t already been said. He was out of his depth, the players did not respect him, he deserved more time, the football was too negative, it’s all Sir Alex Ferguson’s fault… Whatever your opinion, the point is that Moyes has gone and, as poorly as his departure was handled by the club, in these situations football does not allow for sentimentality. Dwell on the past and you will get left behind. As a club, it’s time to move on and look forward – which shouldn’t be too difficult.
As has been well documented this week, Ryan Giggs will take over as United manager on an interim basis until the end of the season. Four games might not seem a lot in the context of nine months, but what can be achieved in both the short- and long-term should not be underestimated. These four games can go a fair way to helping rebuild the “crumbling empire”. Futures can be clarified, attractive football can be played and smiles can be put back on the faces of the supporters. In terms of taking over first team duties, and whilst his chances of landing the job permanently are slim, there is nobody better suited to the role than Giggs.
Many questions have been raised as to his managerial “inexperience”, but every coach has to start somewhere. As a man who knows the inner workings of the club, who understands what it takes to succeed on the pitch, who knows the abilities and attitudes of his team mates and who instantly commands the attention of all of them, Giggs deserves a shot as much as any proven manager. There are several things he needs to do in his short time in charge, however.
He will need to abandon the conservative brand of football embraced by Moyes – his assertion that, “We’ll go back to playing like Manchester United” is encouraging – and play the game “the United way”. Fans can stomach defeats when deserved, they will not accept football that is not exciting. Although he will be unable to assure each and every player as to their futures at the club, he will need to speak to the likes of Kagawa and Hernández and remind them of their importance to United. In addition, he can use the next four games as opportunities to hand chances to those who feel they still have something to prove. No doubt his words of praise or otherwise will go a long way with the next gaffer, too.
Bring Januzaj back into the fold, give Wilson his debut. Show faith in the youth system that made him the player he is. Importantly, he must separate Giggs the footballer from Giggs the manager. This is as good a time as any to lay down a marker, especially if he is looking to manage United again in the future. The overwhelming admiration the rest of the squad have for him is undeniable, but on the training pitch and in the dug-out he must not treat his players as pals.
Whilst the defeat at Goodison Park last weekend mathematically ruled them out of the running for fourth place, the Reds still have some pride to restore, and can at the same time have a massive say in who survives the relegation dogfight, starting with the visit of Norwich on Saturday. It’s important for the players to remain professional and, with the shackles and pressure well and truly off for the rest of the campaign, they can just enjoy their football. Perhaps it would be foolish to expect Giggs to work miracles given some of the performances the team has turned in this season, but playing for a man as revered as the Welshman, surely the desire all too often lacking under the previous manager will be there. Much has been made over the years of a possible reunion of the Class of ’92, and with Paul Scholes joining Giggs’ coaching staff alongside Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, it’s “pinch yourself” kind of stuff. A special atmosphere will await the boys on Saturday, Old Trafford ready to follow their heroes into this post-Moyes era.
Looking at the immediate future beyond Giggs’ anticipated short tenure at the helm, the next gaffer will have the task of bringing some much-needed discipline to the job, managing some big egos and poor attitudes and ultimately stabilising the club. In a World Cup year, and with the futures of various first-teamers unresolved, the issue of the captaincy ongoing and the need for strengthening as urgent as ever, it is not an enviable assignment.
Whilst there are several names in the hat, Louis van Gaal, currently managing the Dutch national team, has been in the picture for a while and remains the odds-on favourite. Most of his managerial honours came with Ajax in the 90s, although he did lead Bayern to the double in 2009/10. As an advocate of hard work, attacking football and bringing young players through the ranks, his ideals appear to mirror those set at United. His tough nature may not be liked by everyone but his no-nonsense approach to management would hit some of the players with a good old reality check. At 62 years of age, the Dutchman wouldn’t be a long-term solution, but a few seasons of strengthening in key areas and keeping an eye on the Academy would help build the foundations for his successor, whether that be Klopp, Simeone… or Giggs?
For now, however, all eyes are on one man. Regardless of what the summer might bring, we’ll certainly enjoy being Ryan Giggs’ red and white army until then.