As the pressure has continued to mount on under-fire Man United manager Louis Van Gaal over the last few weeks, speculation has also risen about who could possibly become his successor if the time comes.
A host of big names have already been mentioned, with Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and even recently-sacked Jose Mourinho all having their names linked to the job. Ryan Giggs is another obvious candidate, a man who’s currently serving the club as assistant manager and seen by many as doing his apprenticeship before stepping into the main job in a year or two.
However, I think there’s another ex-United legend currently managing in the Premier League who deserves a mention – Mark Hughes, or ‘Sparky’, to the Old Trafford faithful.
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While the obvious criticism would be that Hughes has neither the managerial experience and medals, which seem to be a pre-requisite for taking over at one of the worlds biggest clubs, it should be remembered that neither does Giggs, who seems to be most people’s favourite for the job.
In fact, Hughes probably has more relevant experience of the league he would be managing in than any other prospective candidate, except Jose Mourinho.
In that scenario, it would be interesting to see whether Hughes’ previous Old Trafford connections would endear him to the United fans quicker than more than the slightly remote looking Mourinho, who is, in the nicest way possible, a mercenary manager.
Hughes has been managing in the Premier League for a good ten years now, and since that is where United play the majority of their matches, that experience should definitely count for something. This is where he could possibly have an edge over the likes of Guardiola. Hughes has managed every club he’s been at with a not insignificant degree of success, and many at Manchester City still believe his sacking there was harsh and somewhat unfortunate at the time.
At Fulham he did extremely well by their recent standards, leading them to eighth place in the league, and Europa League qualification through the Fair Play League. Considering Fulham are about as far removed from those heady days as it’s possible to get, it’s fair to say he should be remembered as a great success in those parts.
He also did well in his first season at QPR, coming in and saving them from relegation in the final weeks of the season. Although he sacked in the autumn of his second season in charge, keeping them in the Premier League was a great achievement in itself.
His time at Stoke has also been a success so far, with the fans at the Britannia warming to his attacking, adventurous style of football, along with players like Bojan and Arnautovic, who regularly get the fans off their seats.
While there are of course a host of reasons to go abroad and hunt down the most internationally renowned managers in the game, maybe United would be just as well served by looking at one of their own, a man who came through their ranks, has learned his trade by moving steadily up the Premier League chain of management, and is now ready to take his chance at managing at the highest level of the domestic game.