With Pep Guardiola deciding to depart Bayern Munich at the end of the season, Jose Mourinho leaving Chelsea by mutual consent, and Louis Van Gaal hanging onto his job by a thread, the manager merry go-round speculation starts once again.
We know Guardiola will leave the Bundesliga Champions at the end of his third season in charge. This, some would say, means he is on his way to the English Premier League. Manchester City have been long term admirers of the former Barcelona coach, and Manuel Pellegrini is widely considered to be keeping the seat warm until Guardiola is ready to move to Manchester.
Bayern Munich have moved fast to snap up the available Carlo Ancelotti, leaving the rest of Europe’s top clubs beginning to wonder if they too should need a new manager.
This begs the question for United- Is now the time to act?
Jose Mourinho somewhat shock departure from Chelsea has thrown his name into the hat for the top job at Old Trafford, a job he has craved since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Indeed, had circumstances been different when Ferguson left in 2013, Mourinho may have been at Old Trafford since and things would be different in the Theatre of Dreams.
Should Pep go to either Chelsea or City, and with Ancelotti at Munich and Klopp at Liverpool, Manchester United will once again find themselves with little quality available to them to replace Louis Van Gaal when he retires in the Summer of 2017. This is why United should bring that departure forward.
This was the very problem they faced when Alex Ferguson decided to retire in the summer of 2013. All of Europe’s top coaches were tied up elsewhere. Will United go for Ryan Giggs? Will they decide to offer Louis Van Gaal another contract? Louis Van Gaal has made it known he will be leaving in 2017 when his contract expires, and recent mounting pressure and the failure of Guardiola or Mourinho to distance themselves from the position has only added to the pressure the experienced Dutchman is experiencing at Old Trafford.
Would he be open to bring this departure forward? He may feel he doesn’t need the stress or criticism he is currently receiving from Manchester United supporters and the media. He has already decided this job is his last in football. He won’t want to end his career getting sacked. His recent press conference walkout and his confusing recent comments suggest he is feeling the heat. After the loss to Stoke City he looked a broken man and he even suggested he may walk away. Following the much improved performance against Chelsea he showed a more resilient attitude to the challenge he is facing and the prospect of turning things around. The selling of Jose Mourinho scarves and the chanting of his name at games at Old Trafford is disrespectful and is a side of football that is not pleasant.
Regardless, Van Gaal is leaving in 18 months time and Manchester United need to either act now or have plans in place for when he does leave. Lots of questions will be going through the minds of the hierarchy at Manchester United and indeed their fans. The fact remains that names like Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are deciding their futures now.
The Main Contenders
Simply put, Ryan Giggs is too inexperienced for the major rebuilding job at Old Trafford. Some suggest that Mourinho or Guardiola will struggle to turn things around at Old Trafford. If they will find it tough, what chance has Ryan Giggs?
Giggs needs to follow in the footsteps of Gary Neville and go to a club to prove himself as a manager first. Just to walk straight into your first job in management at Manchester United would be a major risk and could damage the glorious reputation he has as a United legend at the club. If he is successful the time will come when he will get his chance at United. That time is not now.
Manchester United would be foolish not to consider Jose Mourinho. While he may not please many United fans and indeed Sir Bobby Charlton with his antics, we cannot escape the fact that he is one of the greatest managers of his generation and a proven winner. His close friendship with Sir Alex Ferguson could also be an important factor. His recent slump with Chelsea should not count against him, and with Chelsea sacking him he would feel no anxiety in a move to Chelsea’s rivals and a chance to follow in the footsteps of Sir Alex, a man he has always looked up to. The friendship and mutual respect for each other has grown since Mourinho somewhat controversially ran down the touchline celebrating a Porto goal at Old Trafford which knocked United out of the Champions League in 2004, and sent Porto on their way to a surprising win. Indeed, this was the event that put Mourinho on the road to success in football management. Maybe now is the time he gets to try the Old Trafford hot seat for himself.
Guardiola too has to be considered, but he may have already decided his future should widespread speculation be believed. Man City are believed to have courted him for many seasons, and City’s riches suggest they usually get what they want eventually.
With the future of some of Europe’s top coaches under review, Manchester United should be head of the queue, even if this upsets some people along the way. The next boss of Manchester United will be the third since Sir Alex Ferguson departed. That will be three managers in four years after Sir Alex bringing the curtain down on his twenty six year reign in 2013. Records still continue to be broken at United, but not in a positive way.
The worry among United fans is if the club is in decline, and if so, what can they do to turn things around. Manchester United need to have a plan of action now, and while many fans may not agree, Jose Mourinho is the man to turn things around at Old Trafford.
The prospect of Guardiola and Mourinho pitting their wits against each other in Manchester just as they did in their time as managers of Barcelona and Real Madrid is a tantalising thought for fans of both clubs.
The question is will Jose hang around until the summer? While it may be harsh on a formerly great manager, Van Gaal has had time, and plenty of money, and has failed. The time is now to decide the course of action United need to take.
As the great leader they have failed to replace once said, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.