There are certain things we can always bank on in life, certain sayings which ring true because they invariably are. “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win” not forgetting “ if you’re good enough you’re old enough” and that old Paul Merson favourite- there’s only one person that gets you the sack and that’s the fans.”
There is one saying that is truer than others, one that’s been proven time and time again: “great players don’t make great managers.” United fans can certainly testify to that as we’ve seen legends such as Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Bryan Robson and even Bobby Charlton struggle to turn being a a phenomenon on the pitch into being one in the dugout. It can’t be easy being a gifted footballer and asking mere mortals such as Andy Reid and Hamilton Ricard to show the same effort, skill and energy that made you a legend. Similarly when Bobby Charlton took over at Preston North End, Alex Bruce was his top scorer and without doubt a good player, but he wasn’t the greatest goal scorer England had ever produced and the man who’d bagged more for Manchester United than any other player in history. It’s easy to see how Charlton may have struggled to understand why his charges failed to burst the back of the net from 20 yards out every time they got the ball, such was the ease with which the combovered one had achieved it on a regular basis.
It’s not just United’s legends that have struggled to turn wonderful playing ability into managerial excellence, the games greats such as Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Bobby Moore all enjoyed mixed fortunes as managers.
There are exceptions to the rule of course, Pep Guardiola was one of the best registas on the planet in his time, whilst Ronald Koeman is one the Netherlands all-time greats.
It’s with the likes of Guardiola and Koeman in mind, United have embarked on a course of action that seems destined to hand over the first team reigns to one of the club’s all-time greats. When Ryan Giggs took over from the clueless David Moyes around this time last season, it became obvious during even his brief stint as caretaker boss, the man used to tearing full backs apart was destined to take over full time eventually. There’s actually rumours that were it not for the loss to relegation battling Sunderland during his managerial spell, then Giggs may have been handed the full time position at the end of the season.
Thankfully for United- and I say ‘thankfully’ as it’s obvious a more experienced head was needed to steady the post-Moyes ship the former Everton boss almost sunk to un-retrievable levels- Van Gaal came in and has finally shown why he was needed after months of inconsistency and false dawns.
The real question for United fans is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ Giggs will be ready to take over and it’s here the Reds can ensure they have a Bob Paisley rather than a Roy Evans waiting in the wings if you’ll pardon the Scouse comparison.
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