The Scot came in this summer to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford after 26 years and monumental success and, whilst everyone acknowledged he would be a tough act to follow, even Moyes himself couldn’t have predicted the reigning Premier League champions would be 9th in the table, 12 points from the leaders and in danger of losing out on Champions League qualification.
1) Jupp Heynckes
68-year-old German Heynckes has a CV that reads like a who’s who of European footballing elite. Prior to his two years with Bayern Munich, he’s been in charge at Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Monchengladbach, Schalke, Althetic Bilbao, Benfica, Real Madrid, Tenerife, and Frankfurt. His honours include seven Bundesliga titles, two Champions League titles and a World Cup (as a player) with Germany. The only problem would be coaxing him out of retirement, an attempt probably doomed to inglorious failure.
2) Luis Van Gaal
62-year-old Dutchman Van Gaal has a similarly impressive CV to his German counterpart Heynckes. He’s managed Ajax, Barcelona, Bayer Munich and the Netherlands national team twice. His honours include three Eredivisie titles, two La Liga titles, a Bundesliga title a Champions League title and a UEFA Super Cup title. United would likely have to wait until after the World Cup to get him, though.
3) Marcelo Bielsa
This 58-year-old Argentine was described by Pep Guardiola as ‘the world’s greatest manager’ is not quite as well-known in England as he is in Spain but his experiences with Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol in La Liga earned him his reputation in Europe whilst his reputation in South America is of as high a profile following a four-year spell in charge of the Chile national team, the Argentina national team as well as one of the most successful Argentine clubs Velez Sarsfield, and their Mexican equivalent America.
He is an immaculate perfectionist who is known to personally measure the pitches out at away grounds by pacing across them, before he decides on his formation. He also tends to train his defence, midfield and strikers separately at different times and he is said to have the most ‘cultured library of soccer in the world’. After his contract with Athletic Bilbao expired this June, he is available.
4) Roberto Di Matteo
Although he also managed United bitter rivals Chelsea, he did take them on to win the Champions League and the FA Cup double and it would really upset the Blues fans to have him in charge at Old Trafford which would be worth bringing him in just for that. He’s jobless at the moment and is a very astute practitioner of the game, despite his previous experience being just West Brom and Milton Keynes Dons prior to Chelsea.
5) Michael Laudrup
One of the greatest midfielders of all time, the 49-year-old Dane is of course the manager of Swansea and the work he has achieved there is nothing short of remarkable. He’s still paying his dues as a coach but his spells in Spain in charge of Mallorca and Getafe as well as in Russia with Spartakh Moscow and Brondby in his homeland Denmark mean he’s is by no means a rooky. You only have to watch the way the Swans play to ascertain that much.
6) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Another club legend of Keane’s era is the 40-year-old Norwegian currently in charge at Molde where he’s been since he left his post in charge of the United Reserves for three years. I’d say this would be a fantastic choice if it was in a few years time – it would be a lot of pressure to place on a young manager with limited top level experience but, then again, he knows the club and the players.
7) Ryan Giggs
There would be no phone call required to get this guy in charge – the Glazers would simply have to walk up to Carrington and tear Giggsy away from his training. He just turned 40 years old and is unlikely to be able to continue as a player much longer but he could take charge as player manager in the meantime seeing as he is already signed up to do just that.
The players respect him so much, you can see it every time he plays, and it would be a baptism of fire for a man never to have been a manager before but I reckon he could do it. In fact, while we’re at it, why not hire the entire Class of ’92 – get Gary Neville out the Sky box, Becks on the payroll and Bob’s your uncle.
image: © Doha Stadium Plus