What’s next for Ryan Giggs away from the United dugout?

If anyone was in any doubt as to who the supporters of Manchester United prefer as their new manager, they should seek the results of the recent polls conducted across well-respected club fanzines and websites in the last week.

Ed Woodward’s shortlist is believed to be a straight shoot-out between Jose Mourinho and Ryan Giggs. It is Mourinho who came out on top but whether he would be a fans’ favourite over the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone or “insert another up-and-coming European manager here” remains to be seen.

What is clear from the United fans’ feedback is who they don’t want to succeed Louis van Gaal as United manager.

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on February 28, 2016 in Manchester, England.

To say Mourinho is favoured over Giggs would be an under-statement; the highest percentage the latter received across the polls was 28% in one, with the lowest being 2% in another.

The reasons against the club’s most decorated player taking the job are not out of any vitriolic or toxic nastiness, but simply he does not have the experience at this level to assume such a task.

It is understandable too, that they don’t want to see a fantastic playing career potentially overshadowed by a failed managerial stint. For Giggs himself, he will say he still wants to manage the club one day. But how does he work his way in to the Old Trafford hotseat?

Some have suggested that the way to becoming a future United boss is to leave the club completely, taking a position at a club in the lower leagues of English football. Easy, right?

Only that’s not what ex-United striker and treble hero Teddy Sheringham found when he started his managerial career at Stevenage last Summer, following a spell as an attacking coach at West Ham United.

In an interview with Jacob Steinberg in the Guardian last year, Sheringham said, “One of my family did actually say: ‘why don’t you try and get a job at a higher level? Because if you don’t do it right at Stevenage, where would you go from there?’

You can understand that theory; that if it doesn’t work here, then a Championship team or a League One team’s not going to take me'”. Sheringham’s playing career yielded a total of 300 goals in league and international appearances.

Along with his successful spell at United, his name is synonymous with Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League era. He was sacked by Stevenage on February 1st this year, leaving the club 19th in League Two having picked up only three points from their previous eight matches.

Sheringham’s experience falls in line with the old cliché, “the best players don’t always make the best managers”, but more worrying for Football League managers collectively, according to statistics in Michael Calvin’s latest book, ‘Living on the Volcano’, “the average lifespan of a Football League Manager is 17 months” and “it takes a sacked manager 18 months, on average, to find another job. 58% of first-time managers never get back in to work when they are discarded”.

Looking at it from a club’s point of view, why should they be willing to let just any ex-player come in and use their club as a stepping stone for personal experience? Supporters of clubs in the lower leagues harbour hopes of promotions, Wembley play-off triumphs and famous Cup runs.

Many will look at Bournemouth in the Premier League and believe that anything is possible, especially when you consider how they almost dropped out of the Football League completely in 2009.

Fans have a right to feel aggrieved if their club is used to fulfil the ambition of a novice manager. Tony Adams, a four-time league winner with Arsenal and one of the best centre-backs of the Premier League era was met with resistance for these very reasons when he took over at Wycombe Wanderers in November 2003.

The club were relegated from League One that season with Adams resigning a few months in to the next season. If Giggs was to take this route he would be in grave danger of ever sitting in the Old Trafford dugout in a professional capacity again: “Hi Ed, just been sacked by Carlisle. Hello? Ed?”.

What if Giggs was to take the advice of Sheringham’s family member and aim for a job higher up? It’s true he would inherit a higher standard of squad, working with better players who can adopt to a manager’s methods a lot easier. But the higher you go, the higher the expectation.

One would assume he has already spoken at length to his best pal and business partner, Gary Neville, on how his tremendous success as a player is going a long way to achieving a similar type of success at Valencia.

Which brings us back to Giggs remaining at Manchester United, but in what capacity? Louis van Gaal chose to install Giggs as his assistant in 2014 so he could be versed in the traditions and structure of the club, but it is difficult to see Jose Mourinho offering the same type of convenient arrangement to the Welshman.

man who has won the Premier League three times with Chelsea and is his own man, to put it mildly, surely doesn’t need an ex-player to hold his hand in preparation for the everyday grind at Old Trafford.

Even if it wasn’t to be Mourinho given the job, would someone like Pochettino or Simeone really feel that they need to employ Giggs as their No.2? David Moyes famously, or infamously, wiped out the entire backroom staff of Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele at a great cost when he took the job in 2013.

This was subsequently used as a great big stick to beat him with when it inevitably all went wrong. But when van Gaal boards his final flight out of Manchester never to return, he will most likely have Messrs Bout, Hoek and Stuivenberg in tow.

There will be definite requirement for the new manager to bring in an entire new coaching staff; will this include a new assistant manager?

The question is, does having a cultured club stalwart, someone seasoned in the club’s traditions and values, have to remain in a coaching capacity? Can they be engaged with the task of finding a manager who fits the style of play that supporters want to see?

It’s hard to imagine van Gaal spending last Christmas in Manchester had this type of hierarchical structure been in place. Such a structure is in place at Southampton with Les Reed as the man at the helm.

There, they profile the manager who is right for the club, not the other way round, Jose. Players are identified who are right for the club and right for how the team plays.

Woodward could still have the final say if he so pleases, but before he does there would be bit more common sense devoted to transfer policy, where players aren’t bought just because there’s a sale on at Jorge Mendes.

But perhaps this type of bureaucratic arrangement just isn’t for Ryan Giggs. He may very well just want to have his “boots on the grass” whatever the situation.

His pal and fellow Class of ’92 graduate Nicky Butt was recently appointed as Head of Academy where he will oversee the progress and development of youth team players. Prior to this Butt was in charge of the various underage teams, most recently the under-18s.

If it’s some essential managerial experience that Giggs wants then he should look no further than here. Working at this level and out of the spotlight would enable him to obtain a solid managerial grounding, making the transition to first-team manager seem much smoother if and when the situation arises in the future.

At present Giggs is believed to be the first-choice of Sir Alex Ferguson and Bobby Charlton, but with no experience this represents an incredible risk, the type of which was bestowed upon David Moyes which ended up being a disaster for both the former Everton manager and the club.

If coaching at underage level is his route in to management it would resemble, to an extent, the path Pep Guardiola took when he was at Barcelona (Guardiola coached Barcelona B), and fans would be a lot more confident in him taking the reins from this position.

Whether Giggs gets to decide his own future remains to be seen. It may be decided for him: the worry for Manchester United fans is that Woodward could be swayed by Ferguson and Charlton in to handing Giggs the reins.

Then again, Mourinho’s appointment could leave Giggs out in the cold and left wondering where to turn next. As with his wonder-goal against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final, he may have to go it alone and make up his own mind in order to reach the new heights of success.

The Author

Shane Connaughton

Irish, London-based football enthusiast.

3 thoughts on “What’s next for Ryan Giggs away from the United dugout?

  1. Good points made Shane and it is a big question of whether Giggs for all his committment to United would be able to handle both the players and the pressure.
    If United were say a Championship club with no great previous history then he could well be a success there but this is Manchester United, a massive club in all aspects of the game and playing is one thing but managing is another!
    Personally I would go with a manager of experience and one who would neither be frightened of the pressure nor the task but the question is who?
    Mourinho has the experience, the tactical nous and knowledge of managing a top club AND winning top trophies but it is his demeanour that worries many and it is doubtful ‘an old dog’ can learn new tricks.
    Giggs would not be my choice and if that meant he left then so be it for other than overseeing a lesser job with United – if it was offered to him and he took it – where would he fit in?
    If the choice was mine, I would try and persuade Mauricio Pochettino to come to Old Trafford.
    He has gone about his business quietly and without any fuss and has transformed a Tottenham side which has always promised to do well but always faultered when it mattered but now could well win the PL.
    I believe he would fit in very nicely and bring back the trophies which they have been so used to collecting under Sir Alex!

  2. LOL……How can a perverted A’hole be the manager for man utd, it’ll tarnish the club’s image and send a whole load of wrong messages to the youngsters as to whom they should model their hero’s after.
    It’s said that the board namely he who doesn’t seem to be able to pass on and SAF doesn’t like Mourinho for his controversies…..well Ryan Giggs controversies and indiscretions put Mourinho’s antics look like play school.
    If the man utd board does eventually pick Giggs to be the club’s manager ahead of Mourinho, then I guess they’ll lose the respect and this fan of 30 years !!! Cause for sure the club’s gone to shite !!!

  3. @ Utdfan, I agree, before the whole sleeping with your brothers wife I was all for Giggs to be the manager. A successful playing career followed by a successful managerial career perhaps? But after that disgusting act I cannot even look at him the same, my respect for him has completely fallen. I would rather prefer Gary Neville despite whatever happens at Valencia, I would take anyone over Giggs.
    Also when he took over from Moyes he didn’t do much to convince that he is the right man…

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