Craig Salmon's Soapbox: Manchester United should have shown more faith in its loyal servants after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson
Jose Mourinho's sacking as Manchester United manager confirms to Craig Salmon that the club's hierarchy made a huge mistake turning its back on the dynasty created by its legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson
I guess most Manchester United supporters were always worried about what would happen to their club once the great Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager.
So accustomed to a yearly dose of success, it was they who always held sway when it came to bar-room banter or online forums with opposition fans.
However, the boot has certainly been on the other foot in recent years ever since Ferguson departed Old Trafford in 2013 – with a parting gift of his and the club’s 13th Premier League title.
Since then United – arguably the biggest club in the world – have barely had a whiff of winning the title again.
Last season’s runners-up finish papered over the fact that they finished a whopping 19 points behind neighbours and arch rivals Manchester City.
The news this week of Jose Mourinho’s sacking as boss – after an abysmal start to this campaign – all but confirmed to me that United’s hierarchy have, in effect, made a total pig’s ear of the club post-Fergie.
After 26 years of having one man at the helm, United have now dismissed three permanent managers in five years.
For so long a club that scoffed at their rivals’ hire-and-fire nature, United have turned into the very thing that they poured scorn on.
To my mind – and I’m certainly no United fan – they missed a trick in not continuing the dynasty that Ferguson had created over his two-and-a-half decade reign.
Handing the job to someone like Ryan Giggs, with Fergie’s trusty right-hand man Mike Phelan as his assistant, would have been the natural progression.
Steeped in the ways of their old boss and the famous ‘Manchester United way’, I am sure the appointment of Giggs – the most decorated player in English football – and Phelan would have created a business-as-usual type feel around Old Trafford despite the obvious huge void left by Ferguson. There could have been scope for bringing some of the Class of ’92 back to have an input.
But by appointing David Moyes as Ferguson’s replacement, United went ‘outside’ and the decision has proven to be a mistake.
Moyes struggled with the size of the job and his subsequent successors Louis van Gaal and Mourinho – despite enjoying some success – were far too pragmatic in their footballing approach.
Brought up on a diet of swashbuckling, counter-attacking, quick-passing, direct-style football under Fergie, fans must have been left wincing at Mourinho’s turgid, defensive and negative tactics.
I always thought bringing Mourinho in was the wrong appointment, especially as it came at a time when their rivals moved for Pep Guardiola – a man known for his expansive, vibrant and attacking football, which he has instilled in the Blue half of the city.
It will be interesting to see what Mourinho’s next move will be, but he is starting to have the look of a busted flush.
United have since appointed former favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a caretaker manager, with Phelan as his assistant.
By giving him in the job – albeit on a temporary basis – is it a case of the club going back to what should have been the future?