Much has been speculated, and seemingly just as much as been confirmed, just to end up being denied. The hottest talking point in the managerial game is inching closer to its crescendo. Who will be the next Manchester United coach?
No one really knows what is happening with the red half of Manchester at the moment, their on field performances are neither here nor there, their spending is not as prudent as it once was, and their manager looks to have wilted under the pressure with increasingly bizarre press conference performances from week to week. The answer to the question is seemingly going to be either; Louis Van Gaal stays on with United, or the Special One, Jose Mourinho takes the hot seat.
Long suspected to be to the next move since he was fired from Chelsea, Mourinho has been linked with this job for years now, ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. Week by week new reports come out saying he has agreed to terms, he hasn’t agreed. He’s bought a home in Manchester; he hasn’t bought a home in Manchester. Players are even coming out and saying that they would go to United, only if Jose was the coach. Everything points towards this being nothing more than a formality.
Van Gaal has managed to save face in some small regard, despite missing out on Champions League football again; they are still in contention for another trophy, set to face off against Crystal Palace for the FA Cup in the coming weeks. He has also managed to do something that made Manchester United what it has always been known for, development of youth, through given fourteen youth team players senior caps, or prolonged experience throughout the season, with Timothy Fosu-Menah being the shining example of the faith LVG has shown in the young talent that United are blessed with.
However, his style of play has also landed him in the cross-hairs of fans and pundits alike. With a penchant for playing back and side-to-side (which is something they struggle with), Van Gaal has taken away the spark of Manchester United; The hard working, power-running, relentless nature of the game style which made them the best club in England and arguably the biggest in Europe.
However for all the pandering and the discussion, there has been a very real question that has yet to be asked, who else could do the job? Sure, they have been suggestions that the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone and Laurent Blanc could all take the reins, but with Pochettino re-signing with the resurgent Spurs just this week, Simeone taking Atletico back to the European Champions League final and Laurent Blanc enjoying French success, why would they want to ‘take a step down’?
The person who should be included in this conversation is Ronald Koeman.
The Southampton boss has just come off a seasons where he has taken the Saints to their highest ever finish as well as eclipsing their previous point record of 60, with 62. In his two years with the club, which had to undergo a serious over-haul, he has taken them to Europe twice.
Coming from Ajax, the pinnacle of technical football with a strong focus on youth development, Koeman not only has a keen eye for talented youth players and knows how to fit them into the rigours of senior football, he also knows how to get the best of a team often suffering from constant changes to its core.
Having lost Dejan Lovern, Luke Shaw, Nathaniel Clyne, Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Jack Cork, Koeman needed to fix the serious holes that were left, doing so with the shrewd purchases of players such as; Oriol Romeu, Jordy Classie, Shane Long, Charlie Austin and Virgil Van Dyjk.
Manchester United, for the better part of the last five years has lost their soul; their very identity, the intangible thing that made them the ‘Red Devils’. David Moyes was unable to rediscover what had been lost at the end of Sir Alex’s reign and the hopes put on LVG faded after 18 months. This season, Van Gaal has the same amount of points as Moyes did in his season in charge, but having spent nearly $250 million more than Moyes, it won’t be looked upon as kindly.
Sure, Mourinho has the name, the profile and the bravado to fill what can easily be labelled the toughest managerial role in England, but Ronald Koeman has the acumen, the patience and the eye for the environment which could help rediscover what has been lost, and ultimately put United back into the position that they expect to be in every season.[interaction id=”5739d128fc69012768a26200″]