It was only a matter of time before Manchester United gave David Moyes the sack. In fact, since his appointment on July 1, 2013, many fans had been counting down the days until his departure, probably wondering how a man with no experience when it came to winning trophies could possibly have been given the most challenging and coveted role in soccer management in the first place. It was a poisoned chalice if ever there was one, and widespread speculation turned gracelessly into blunt fact this morning when it was announced that Sunday’s defeat to Everton was Moyes’ last game in charge of the fading English champions. Having slowly disintegrated the Scotsman’s tenure at Manchester United, the ugly face of rumour now turns it’s attention towards his successor, as the sporting world now asks itself; who will replace him in the Old Trafford dugout?
The simple answer to that question is Ryan Giggs, for the time being at least. Along with Moyes’ sacking, it was confirmed that the Welsh winger (a pivotal figure in the United on-field set-up since 1991) would take charge on an interim bases until a permanent successor could be established. With it now being mathematically impossible for the Reds to qualify for the Champions League (and all but the same to be said for the Europa League), Giggs’ job-description will be to pick a team-sheet every weekend, sit back in the dugout (with stereotypical manager’s overcoat) and watch his side play soccer, be it good, bad, or indifferent. If you’re to believe some of Manchester United’s anti-fans, such a laid-back approach isn’t too dissimilar to David Moyes’ style of coaching, but whoever eventually comes in to replace him for the long-term will have a starkly contrasting CV in terms of managerial experience.
Louis Van Gaal is currently the bookmakers’ favourite to take the permanent helm at Old Trafford. Having been in charge of such high-profile teams as Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, he has a firm understanding of what it takes to cut it at the highest level, not to mention a man-management philosophy capable of dealing with the overpaid prima donnas expected at every European soccer club. Unlike the under-qualified Moyes, he has multiple major trophies in three different countries under his belt, including the Eredivisie (the Netherlands), La Liga (Spain), and the Bundesliga (Germany). He also has extensive knowledge of Champions League qualification and general progression, including winning the competition with Ajax in 1995. Van Gaal currently heads the Netherlands national team, and so his appointment would be out-of-bounds until the World Cup finals have been played this summer. With potential new signings needing to be explored before that time, have Manchester United given David Moyes the sack too late to ensure Van Gaal will replace him?
Second on the likely list of candidates is Jurgen Klopp. Presently presiding over German side Borussia Dortmund, Klopp is known for his bullish approach to management, sudden anger-driven pitch-side outbursts, and is perhaps the closest thing Manchester United will come to electing a new Alex Ferguson. He has won the Bundesliga twice with Dortmund (2011 and 2012) and steered them to the Champions League final in 2013, where they lost to rivals Bayern Munich by two goals to one. Since the sacking of David Moyes however, Klopp has distanced himself from the vacant role at Manchester United, stating that his “commitment to Borussia Dortmund and the people is unbreakable.” He signed a contract extension in October that would keep him at Dortmund until 2018, and it looks like, unlike many other individuals in the world of sport, he will honour the agreement to it’s conclusion.
Next on the list (depending on who you listen to) is a permanent deal for Ryan Giggs or even the return of Sir Alex Ferguson himself. Both routes seem equally unlikely for the big-wigs at Old Trafford to take, with Giggs having literally no touchline experience what-so-ever and Alex Ferguson (currently a director and ambassador for Manchester United) probably unwilling to come out of managerial retirement in order to undertake a massive overhaul the club undoubtedly requires. Stranger things have happened (Gary Neville becoming an objective pundit on SkySports for example) and if Giggs takes United on a good run to the end of the season who knows, but it looks rather likely that the short-list for a permanent manager will omit the names of the Welsh and Scotsman.
Other names such as Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid), Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich) and even Jose Mourinho (Chelsea) have been mentioned in relation to the job, but with all being rank outsiders, realistically Louis Van Gaal and Jurgen Klopp are the only two names worth getting excited about at the moment. The retirement of Alex Ferguson and the hiring of David Moyes were almost instantaneous events ten months ago, and Manchester United fans will be hoping Moyes’ sack and the appointment of anyone set to replace him will be just as quick this time around.
Commentary by Zachary John C