Louis van Going – the replacements

January 26, 2016 Tags: , , , Reads 27 comments
featured image

“He’s got incredible energy and very importantly he likes attacking football.” It was the kind of off-the-cuff boast that Manchester United’s executive vice chairman has become known for. Summer 2014, brimming with the kind of bravado inspired by victory, Woodward added another supposed truism to his unveiling of a new manager secured: that Louis van Gaal’s style would bring “the kind of football Manchester United fans love.” That attacking football is “part of our DNA.” Woodward got only one part of the story correct.

More than 500 days on and Woodward’s confidence is now laid bare; Van Gaal’s time at United surely drawing to a close. Whether he jumps, as Van Gaal is prone to do, or is finally pushed, it will end a period of ignominious failure at Old Trafford, and bring to a close a stellar career on a desperately sour note. More than 20 years and 19 trophies on, Van Gaal has no wish to retire in these circumstances.

Yet, the Dutchman was sent back to the Netherlands over the weekend to contemplate his future after reportedly handing in a third resignation in as many weeks – a story denied by the club. The clock is ticking. Not least because failure is really the only appropriate word to describe Van Gaal’s performance. In an industry where poor results will break even the best managers there is normally only one outcome when they are as underwhelming as those achieved at United this season.

The delay is political and, frankly, desperate. Van Gaal is contracted to the summer of 2017 and will be due a substantial pay-off if United pull the trigger on a sacking. It is one reason – not a good one – that the Dutchman remains in post. The other is even more insidious: Woodward’s requirement for his coach to turn United’s ship around. There is scant evidence that Van Gaal will, can or even wants to achieve that goal.

Still, should United lose at Derby County in the FA Cup on Friday night, then the pressure for change may become unbearable, with Ryan Giggs waiting to step in until a permanent manager is appointed. Either way, it is now inconceivable that Van Gaal survives beyond the summer… and there are others that want the job.

Jose Mourinho – 4/5

There is more than one group at United that wants nothing to do with the controversial Portuguese coach. It was, and is, Boardroom disagreement about the managers’ merits, or lack thereof, that first prevented Mourinho from succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. It was a decision that led, disastrously, to David Moyes’ appointment to one of the biggest jobs in world football. Van Gaal’s travails at United speak to the size of the task at hand – not only in rebuilding a broken team, but doing so in the uniquely commercially oriented environment that exists at Old Trafford. Yet, Mourinho ticks so many of the right boxes too: a stellar CV that includes eight league titles in four countries, two Champions League victories and countless other trophies. He is a serial winner, desperately wants the job and is available. What, in that case, is the drawback? The corrosive personality; the penchant for breaking relationships bordering on the nihilistic; and a style of football that has only intermittently set the hearts racing.

Ryan Giggs – 7/2

The romantics’ choice – and Giggs wants the job so desperately he played no small part in engineering Moyes’ downfall. Giggs has spent more than two decades at the club, joining as a will-o’-the-wisp teenage winger, before claiming 34 trophies as a player for the club. The word ‘legend’ doesn’t do Giggs’ role in United’s recent successes enough justice. Yet, there are plenty of barriers to the Welshman’s accession to the top job – not least his inexperience as a coach. Giggs’ appointment would be, as Giovanni Trappatoni once noted, akin to placing a learner driver at the wheel of a Ferrari. Giggs is known to have felt overwhelmed by his four-game stint as caretaker in the wake of Moyes’ dismissal. Less than two years on and Giggs has little positive in the way of additive experience from which to draw. Then there’s the political dimension with Woodward apparently suspicious of a ‘Class of 92’ cabal gaining significant traction at the club.

Ryan Giggs

Pep Guardiola – 8/1

The world’s preeminent manager is, as Woodward is supposed to have briefed, a “collector of trophies.” Some insult that. Not only has the Spaniard produced two outstanding teams at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but each has offered – for the most part – some of the best football of the past 20 years. Guardiola’s fortune in inheriting two sets of outstanding talents was truly golden, but there is no doubt about Pep’s ability to fashion top players into a winning team. Trophies, good football, and a man who has made all the right noises about taking over at Old Trafford – it is, surely, the right package? And yet there has been reticence, particularly from Woodward, about making a move for the 45-year-old. Manchester City beckons, but it didn’t have to be that way. The pushback: Guardiola’s unknown quantity in Premier League terms; that he is yet to be challenged by a group of players as, well, poorly equipped as those at Old Trafford; and that he offers only four years’ service. Woodward has probably made a critical error. Not his first.

Mauricio Pochettino – 18/1

The Argentine has fashioned an impressively young and attacking team at Tottenham Hotspur – one that may well beat United into fourth place. That he performed a similar feat at Southampton, taking the south coast club comfortably into the top echelon of the Premier League, speaks to Pochettino inherent qualities. He is a coach going places. There is, of course, nothing on the CV that makes the 43-year-old a shoe-in: no silverware, no job at one of Europe’s largest clubs, no ‘big time’ personality. He is a coach first; one not schooled in United’s rather old fashioned monolithic structure. Then there is the Spurs contract, which has more than three years to run – and an inevitable compensation discussion to be had with Daniel Levy.

Diego Simeone – 20/1

The Argentine’s Atletico Madrid team continues to defy the smartest pundits. La Liga winners in 2014, Atleti is currently tied with Barcelona at the top of this year’s table. Simeone’s team is a reflection of the man: brutally competitive, utterly committed and sometimes just a little on the edge. All qualities that would serve Simeone well at Old Trafford. Atleti has rarely produced the most thrilling football under Simeone’s stewardship, but then it is never dull either. There is, in a career not yet 10 seasons old, a clear Simeone style. Yet, the 45-year-old has some missing elements on his CV too: not least that he is yet to take charge of one of Europe’s truly élite clubs, with all the added pressure it brings. Nor does Simeone speak good English – undoubtably a drawback in the unforgiving Premier League environment.

Diego Simeone

Mark Hughes – 22/1

The former United striker has not always enjoyed success as a manager. Famously aloof, Hughes had a semi-successful spell as manager of the Welsh national team, before building a bruising Blackburn Rovers outfit. That earned Hughes a crack at the City job – and a dismissal 18 months later that was a known quantity to most of Fleet Street before the Welshman had been given the official word. Hughes spent a year at Fulham before quitting amid a desire to “move on to further my experiences” – widely interpreted as a frustrated manager, held back in the transfer market. Sacked by Queens Park Rangers after less than a year in the job, Hughes was perhaps fortunate to land a role at Stoke City – one that he is undertaking with some gusto. Hughes would be a left-field choice, but one that might become viable if all other options lead to a dead-end.

Gary Neville – 33/1

Smart and incisive, Neville has reinvented punditry – drawing not on clichés and the empty soliloquies so often used in broadcast coverage, but a sharp intellect and instinctive trust in the audience. The former right-back has not yet transferred that approach to the training field. His Valencia side is yet to win in the league, albeit with Neville having only taken charge of 12 games in all competitions this season. Neville, much like Giggs, has little managerial experience to draw on, although he has enjoyed a fruitful spell as assistant to Roy Hodgson with the England national team. Could a Giggs-Neville partnership work at Old Trafford? Just perhaps, although the smart money is on Woodward doing his level best to block that possibility. Fergie is working the other angle, so say the gossip-columnists.

Gary Neville

Joachim Löw – 40/1

Once rumoured to be a shoe-in for the top job at Real Madrid, the German has built a career on a surprisingly low-key approach. After all, Löw is the incumbent World Cup winning manager after Germany romped to the trophy in Brazil during the summer of 2014. In truth Löw has enjoyed a low-profile coaching career too: spells in charge of VfB Stuttgart, Fenerbahçe, Karlsruher SC, Adanaspor, Tirol Innsbruck and Austria Wien are hardly out of the élite coach’s handbook. Yet, Löw’s work, first as assistant to Jürgen Klinsmann, and then as full-time manager of the German national team, has been transformational. After a 12 years out of club football, Löw might well be looking for a fresh start. The Madrid job has, of course, gone elsewhere. Could Woodward come calling?

Who should get the Manchester United job?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

* Odds: SkyBet


kingstar - January 26, 2016 Reply

man utd fans will need mourinho as a cho at manutd because will need cup like fa cup,blp.cup

Red Dave - January 26, 2016 Reply

Sorry for the pedantry, but it’s Will-o’-the-wisp, not willow-the-wisp, isn’t it? I may very well be wrong.

Thanks for all the hard work Ed!

ife ajibode - January 26, 2016 Reply

add your comment here we need Jose

Vu Ndlovu - January 26, 2016 Reply

Sampaoli? Might be left-field and a risk, but plays the type of football Old Trafford would love to see.

giggyjon - January 26, 2016 Reply

So two managerial rookies. One acidic egomaniac. City’s next manager. An Argentinian who speaks little English and who has shown no inclination to leave Spain. A manager that was sacked by QPR and has never won a trophy, and a World Cup Winner with a very mixed club CV. Not a great choice for one of the worlds biggest clubs.

Rasheed - January 27, 2016 Reply

Let mou to try

Denton Davey - January 27, 2016 Reply

I voted for Jo$e.

I’d prefer Pep but I think he’s already bought-and-paid-for by the EastlandsProject.

The antipathy towards Mourinho really astounds me –

As if SAF was an ego-maniac who was also a terrific man manager;

As if SAF’s teams only played “the United Way” (whatever that means);

As if SAF didn’t double-down on keeping a clean sheet after that incredibly embarrassing 6-1 defeat to ManShitty ?
As if SAF gave chances to youth – like Paul Pogba ?

As if SAF was always in control of his players – like Ince ? like Keane-o ? like Ruud ? like Heinze ?

Indeed, like SAF used to always say, “you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth”. With Jo$e there would be a lot of rough but, looking at his achievements, there has been a lot of smooth sailing too.

The notion that Ryan Giggs is even being considered for this job would be hilarious if it wasn’t incredible. What, exactly, has he done to deserve consideration to be the manager of a HUGE club in throes of chaos and in desperate need of a strong hand at the tiller ?

If fans want an “old boy” so that they can feel good then why not Ole-Gunnar Sjolskaer ? He, at least, has some experience in managing and has won championships – although he did make a hash of his ill-advised time at Cardiff which was a big, big mistake but shouldn’t blot his copy-book.

The reality is that if Pep is unavailable – or a-reach-too-far – then the only sensible choice must be Jo$e because he’s the only one of the possible candidates who has a resume that is filled with trophies, including two CL, three EPL, as well as Portuguese, La Liga and Serie A championships. Stacking his resume against Ryan Giggs’ complete inexperience is what makes the decision to go for Mourinho seem to me to be an open-and-shut case.

Fusilli Jerry - January 27, 2016 Reply

Ancelotti, Klopp and Guardiola are all already spoken for; let that be Woodward’s epitaph. Low is a really interesting suggestion but wouldn’t be able to start work until July/August – suggesting another lost summer window. If it needed to be an old boy – making us no more credible a club than Newcastle, at a stroke – my vote would be Steve Bruce; I don’t recall Hughes sounding a single affectionate note toward United from the moment he was sold to Chelsea. Mourinho looks like the least worst option – accept the Dutchman’s repeat resignations – rescue 4th place.

Jason - January 27, 2016 Reply

Hughes spent 13 years at the club, is up there for all time appearances and goals.. you don’t think he has any affection for the club? He is doesn’t have to go stating his affection for the club on a weekly basis, and he is currently an oposing manager, so I wouldn’t expect him to do so.

Pete Naphasorn Webb - January 27, 2016 Reply

Why is that prem winner not at OT now!.

Ahmed muhammed kim - January 27, 2016 Reply

Van gaal is not a coach but he is a flop so we need a tacticle coach like jose mourinho who can win trophies for man united

ssemambo Richard - January 27, 2016 Reply

Everyone knows that the standout manager for LVG replacement is none other than
the man at the last season at Allianz Arena. simply because none at the club level has don’t it in a wonderful way than him
Tell me one if u can
A man with all the spices in football, talk about attacking football, get it and pass it, put the opponents on pressure, press it hard, count attack, score for fun(be it 10-0,9-0,8-0), he can do that.
And considering the fact that united can spend £140m on may be neymar,Suarez,messi,ronaldo, and may be Aguero. This shows that united can go back to its glory days.
Secondly if he isn’t available (I mean pep) I think giggsy deserves it. Why not, if pep came to came to the world scene with just ablink of an eye
with No experience, No trust(only those at Barca saw it in him)
its just that belief which the players want now to go back to their bestie mean look at the age ie of martial revealed as one of the most speady players this season, his take ons,quality
the likes of depay. These are players who need morale to come back to their feet and save the season with giggsy. okay if not permanent, then give him the remaining 15 matches then judge by that,than sitting on your own thoughts and judge him minus the opportunity. lets build our own pep in giggsy who understands the united way through someone the world is still yearning to see (fergie)
For me I give a lot of respect to José but he’s not united way as you always say you want that united way back. No am sorry José but I don’t see that in you. Because I hate things like unrests in united dressing rooms, bans though sometimes are beyond control but that’s your history. And the fact that those systems and tactics are not united way.
let’s avoid quick fixes by appointing some one we can lean on for morethan five years
and I only see that in either giggsy or pep who commit to the team for more than adventure
For all those who need the united way, let’s have the belief in our own as Barca did in pep
that’s if he’s not around
the only option 80% is giggsy
I remember Di mateo winning the famous CL with chelsea after managing some teams which were always relegated
without pep, Giggsy can

@Jaffo - January 27, 2016 Reply


I’ll get my coat.

Moron - January 27, 2016 Reply

Seemingly like Woodward, I don’t have a sodding clue what should happen. Perhaps a Neville/Giggs DoF/Head Coach setup; but who is more suited to which role?

Thobekani - January 27, 2016 Reply

JOACHIM LOW is my man to take over! He has done a great job with the German national team even though some would argue that coaching a national team and a club are two different things but still the man is good! He is great tactician and is good with youth players unlike hosepipe borinho who happens to be a controversial and nomadic figure.

Rich - January 27, 2016 Reply

We are placing so much emphasis on which manager; I would not be that surprised to see Jose or Pep come in and experience something very similar to Van Gaal. Clearly we need something to lift the current malaise around the club and get fans believing again; a big signing could do more than a new manager. Might Ibrahimovic or Bale (or both) flying in next week be more uplifting than Mourinho parking up?

Van Gaal has improved the squad. Unfortunately his ‘philosophy’ is rumoured to involve verve, fluency and romance along the flanks from the full-back position; positions that have been the most unsettled during the Dutchman’s tenure. Where would we be with Shaw and a right wing back of quality, such as Bale?

Opti - January 27, 2016 Reply

Agreed. I am not sure manager matters if we still have Rooney fluffing the front line… United have to modernize from within. Also, please stop spending $$$ on finished talent… Martial signing was fine, but there has got to be other gems to unearth at UNITED and other places that don’t cost a DiMaria!

Ed - January 27, 2016 Reply

Agree that the structure of the club is quite likely to hamstring any new manager too – from the emphasis on commercialism over football to Ed Woodward’s insistence on being United’s CEO, CMO, CSO, CCO and director of football. Not sure about the rest. Van Gaal’s teams haven’t involved “verve, fluency and romance” for about 20 years. And Bale as a right wing back. Eh?

Rich - January 27, 2016 Reply

Yes can’t see Bale taking on that role either but I suspect that is where Van Gaal would want him.. Could work. Either that or Bale would get injured, burgled, snapchatted on Twitter and drive on loan to Dortmund in a phantom drophead.

Love the show. Love the site. Fantastic analysis eye opening every time. Thank you.

Bobby Charlton - January 27, 2016 Reply

Don’t want Poisonous Hose Z near our club. Get Pep in there sharpish . If we cant get him go for Simeone or Pochettino, the two 92’s have no experience

Ichiro - January 27, 2016 Reply

If Real Madrid can appoint Zidane, Barca Guardiola, I dont see why United cannot appoint Giggs. It is risky in terms of results but a safe bet for style of play. And its the latter which is most important right now, going to the very identity of the club and its support.

viren - January 28, 2016 Reply

Madrid is not a rebuilding project which is what Utd seems to be at the moment. He also had experience with the Real B team I believe.

LvG has to go- these inept performances have been going on for months. Even before December we had a string of draws and no goals. I love Giggs- but am not clear on what his contribution has been as LvGs assistant- he just seems to sit there. It could interesting to see him in the job until the summer.

bobbynoble - January 27, 2016 Reply

Get rid of van Gaal now and give the job to Giggs until the end of the season. It will give him a chance to show whether he has what it takes and at the same time allow United to keep open whatever options they have for next season.

john - January 28, 2016 Reply

What about Allegri? I dont see him in any combinations, but he had success in every club that he managed. Started in lower leagues and made his way to Juventus, which he is rebuilding after selling/loosing Tevez, Vidal and Pirlo in one transfer window.
Also was very good in Milan, and was fired for poor results but in truth it was a very bad team, just look at the results managers after him had.

dave - January 28, 2016 Reply

warren joyce,anyone?

Adams Ede - January 30, 2016 Reply

if all these options aren’t gettable, why not Pellegrini? If City fight and get Pep then why not the guy who’s making City playing good football right now. (Be honest guys, you know they are) Out of left field, that’s who I’d get in my opinion. Knows the League. Plays attacking football, (isn’t that the ‘United way’ everyone screams about?) Get him Ed!!! You know you want to!!!

Yogesh - February 4, 2016 Reply

Thomas Tuchel is one manger I really like .. He is 45 tactically very gifted and did great with Mainz and now doing good with BVD despite his squad being far inferior than BM .. He could do wonders if playing fields are even like in England

Add your comment