David Moses. Louis vanGaal. Jose Mourinho. Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
All of Manchester United’s permanent managers in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement have had flaws. Massive ones. Flaws that ultimately cost them their jobs.
Some may never have succeeded even in the best conditions. For some, the stage was too big and for others, it’s clear the game had passed their methods by.
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But all of them, even more so as the years have rolled by, have had to deal with a squad brimming with footballers who have a massively inflated sense of self-importance and (in the case of some) a misguided belief that they’ve Done enough in the game to be able to question the manager.
It has been the same story time and time again. Results take a slight hit and then ‘leaks’ begin to spring from the training ground like a sinking ship. You know the ones: complaints about training, unhappy heads in the dressing room, not playing for the manager.
The latest example occurred just a few weeks ago, with even interim manager Ralf Rangnick not safe from the treatment. This time there was the added spice of an apparent split in the dressing room, as well as some lazy at best — and quite troubling at worst — reports of American coach Chris Armas being labeled as Ted Lasso.
But otherwise, the story was the same, as Rangnick’s training methods came in for criticism from whoever leaked the story to ESPN. There were complaints about ‘old fashioned’ sessions that worked on shape and organisations, two aspects of their game that without question needed plenty of work after a woeful start to the season.
If United’s stars want to spend their mornings having fun shooting drills and having a laugh at training, perhaps they should try actually being good on the pitch first so they don’t need to repeatedly run through the fundamentals like children. Just a thought.
As night follows day, a sizeable number of United’s squad will blame anyone before they look at themselves. Maybe they should start to consider that if every manager they work for is wrong, perhaps it is them who is wrong instead.
Nearly every type of manager has come through the Old Trafford doors over the last decade. A renowned tactician who preached possession in Van Gaal, a strict disciplinary and serial winner who wanted as little possession as possible and sat his teams deep in Mourinho, a friendly and motivating club legend without a defined style in Solskjaer and now in Rangnick a pressing innovator who has hardly managed over the last 10 years.
But none of them had the capabilities of managing a bulging squad full of massive egos, getting them all happy and working in a way that suits them. Perhaps that’s why Carlo Ancelotti could be an intriguing option in their search for a new manager.
United are currently in the midst of their hunt for Solskjaer’s permanent replacement and hope to have one in place before the end of the season. However, that’s made complicated due to the fact that top contenders Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag are already in high-profile jobs and are competing for trophies. Any move before the end of the season is sure to disrupt that.
And that’s even if they wanted to move to such a difficult job — which is no guarantee. If they don’t, United will have to look for alternatives. Ancelotti is the latest name to be linked, even though he is in a similar boat as he closes in on the Spanish title at Real Madrid.
The Italian is a managerial legend and has won all there is to win in every major league. However, though he is taking advantage of a weak La Liga this season, it’s fair to suggest he may be past his peak.
Nothing he did stood out at Everton in his last Premier League job and, as things stand, he hasn’t won a trophy since 2017 as Bayern Munich manager — where they are almost guaranteed.
Even at his best, Ancelotti has never been a renowned tactician. Instead, he relies on simple instructions and allowing his best attacking players to get the job done themselves. He is a motivator and a great man-manager. This reflects on his trophy cabinet, which contains just four league titles in well over 20 years of managing the best clubs in the world. He even lost a league title as Paris Saint-Germain boss to Montpellier.
It’s cup competitions in which he shines, having won the Champions League three times and several domestic tournaments, where one-off encounters are much easier to swing with a rousing speech or arm round the shoulder, rather than a season-long battle where you need to be the best over a prolonged period of time.
So, if United did hire him it seems unlikely that he would be able to wrestle the league title back to Old Trafford, considering the elite tactical minds he would come up against. But the way he has proven time and again to be able to massage the egos of pompous stars and get everyone pulling in the right directions means he might just be exactly what United need at present.
As a renowned manager who has won it all and commands respect, there would be little room for any player to challenge Ancelotti’s authority. He might even be able to end the trophy drought in cup competition.
United have a massive decision to make this summer and they need to find a manager that the players can no longer use as their scapegoat. Ancelotti might be the man.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.