I’m not convinced by the romantic notion that Ryan Giggs can step in and guide Manchester United out of the nadir. I’m not convinced that a man with no prior experience of managing a major European club can be bettered by a man with no managerial experience at all.
Unfortunately we’re living in a time where Pep Guardiola is the rule rather than the exception. There will be campaigns aplenty to argue Giggs’ case. Part of the composition will be the routine 4-0 win over Norwich on the weekend, while much of the other will be that the 40-year-old and Manchester United can offer a reimagining of what happened at Barcelona.
But there is actually no sense behind Giggs taking over the managerial job, at least nothing that goes beyond the clichés and fairly pointless ties the midfielder has to the club.
In an interim capacity, with nothing to lose let alone anything to gain, it’s a safe bet. Giggs looked the part, both in suit on the touchline and in the pre-match press conference. He said all the right things where the previous manager couldn’t. He was bold in his team selection on the weekend, dropping the invention of Juan Mata for the pace of Danny Welbeck. And what’s interesting is that no one said a thing.
Instead of statements being made of Giggs, which have very little relevancy when it comes to selecting a manager other than for the appeasement of supporters, questions should be asked of his credentials.
What are his ideas for taking United forward and importantly getting them back to where they should be at the top of the Premier League tree? How does he plan to set up his team? It’s facile to say United will play attacking football under Giggs simply because he knows that football of that nature is engrained in the club. What will his methods be for rediscovering that attacking instinct?
As an example, Barcelona have a host of attacking players who are rightly considered the best in the world, yet Tata Martino has either struggled or been unable to bring about their maximum potential on the pitch this season. They’ve struggled for parts of the second half of the season, both domestically and in Europe, and players alone are no guarantee of the successful deployment of attacking football.
Whatever happens in United’s final three games of the season, it would be wrong to use such a small window to measure Giggs’ credentials. If the players go out and win the final games, will it be because of their respect for him, respect that wasn’t present for David Moyes? United are a club with a huge pool of talent with which to choose when shopping in the market, and who’s to say every player will come in and immediately take to Giggs as a manager? Does he have the ability to control a dressing with potentially half a dozen egos and personalities?
We don’t know how Giggs will handle European football, which United won’t have to worry about for some time anyway. The Champions League can show the best in England to be inferior to the best from the continent, and that counts for managers as well as teams. Giggs might look the part, but will he act the part? Is he able to counter the tactics of a top European manager, or will his vast inexperience be found out?
Giggs’ history with the club does set him up to become manager at United at some point, but not now. The club can’t afford to take another sizeable gamble on the basis of romantic ideals. They need to be pragmatic. If Louis van Gaal is to become the next manager then by all means Giggs should be part of the coaching staff. Get him to learn from a man who tutored both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. Like the latter, give Giggs an opportunity to coach one of the youth teams and let him work his way up. If there’s success at a lower level then the argument for him to be manager of a senior team will be more convincing that anything we’ve heard thus far.