April 23, 2014

Horse 1661 - My Suggestion For The Next Manchester United Manager

Manchester United manager David Moyes has been sacked, only 10 months after succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.
His dismissal was announced shortly after 0830 BST, following a meeting with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward at the club's training ground.
- BBC, 22nd Apr 2014

As a Liverpool fan, seeing Liverpool at the top of the table with three games to go is both exciting and nerve wracking; knowing at any moment, the whole ivory tower could collapse and thus ends another season in a quarter of a century without a league title. Suffice to say though, there is a certain schadenfreude in seeing Manchester United in seventh.
As I type this, there is a press conference going on in which manager David Moyes has been sacked; less than a season into the job.

Following Sir Alex Ferguson who'd been at the helm for 25 years, taken United to 13 league titles, 5 FA Cups, the Double twice and a treble which included the European Champions League was always going to be a job which would be on a hiding to nothing. To be fair, I never really liked David Moyes, considering that he'd come from Everton, but I do feel that the poor chap never really stood a chance.
Part of the problem that any football manager faces is that the players earn far in excess of what they do. When someone's job is to kick a football every week and they're of millions of pounds for doing so, these trumped up prima donnas tend to lose respect for the one who has to somehow act as both a coach and an HR manager. Moyes inadvertently proved that without the support of the playing staff (and players have to come to the realisation that they are in fact staff) since the manager isn't actually on the pitch, they can do nothing when it comes to swinging any event within a match.

The question on everyone's mind now is "who should replace Moyes?" Admittedly, this question can become like a revolving door and we've seen this at places like Tottenham Hotspur and even at Chelsea where very big moneyed interests demand success instantly.

There is only one person in the world, who I think is even capable of the job at Manchester United - Eric Cantona.

I'm going to just come out and say this (and believe me, as a Liverpool fan, I find this very difficult and grating to say), I think that Eric Cantona is the best player to have played anywhere in the world in my lifetime. Better than Dalglish, Maldini, Zidane, Baggio, Ronaldo, Weah, Shearer, Rush... the lot.
Even the number 7 kit which he wore at Manchester United, he outshone George Best who wore it before him; certainly wore it with a greater presence than fancy boys David Beckham or Christiano Ronaldo who wore it after him.

This is the point. Cantona was a liability on the field in some cases as much as he was an asset. At Auxerre in 1991 he threw a ball at a match referee and banned for one month; he then approached every member of the disciplinary panel and personally called each and every one of them an idiot; for which he was given another month ban.
He joined Leeds United where he was the man in the middle during their league title in 1991-2 and joined Manchester United for £1.2m, and won the 1992-3 season with them; thus he is the only player to have won back to back titles for different clubs in England.
In a now famous incident against Crystal Palace in 1995, he was sent off and after he'd been sent off, launched a "kung-fu" kick at a spectator who'd been hurling abuse at him. He was banned for eight months.
On the pitch, Cantona wasn't perhaps the most skilled operator; yet he had a presence and an awareness that made the space around him his. I've seen better technical players but none who dominated the pitch, the direction of play and even the immediate tactics and tempo the way he did.
Still, in just five years at Manchester United he'd racked 80 goals, four league titles and two FA Cups.

Even off the pitch, Cantona made headlines:
“The system is built on the power of banks. So it can be destroyed by banks. Instead of having three million people protesting in the streets, they should go to the bank and take out all their money so the banks collapse.
a revolution without weapons or blood
I have noticed, like everyone else, this strange solidarity that is in the process of emerging, so, yes, on December 7 I will be at the bank."
- Eric Cantona, as quoted France 24, 2nd Dec 2012

Only someone with the sheer utter gall (pun intended) to say exactly what they think, to people who are paid more in a week than most people get in two years - to kick a football, is the sort of person who can stand up to them. I suspect that Eric could command respect in the dressing room, not only because he's been there and done that himself but because both on the pitch and off it, he is a character who is larger than life and perhaps that character just might be big enough, to fill the very big shoes left behind by Sir Alex.

PS: That doesn't mean that I'd support Manchester United though. Bleh.

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