As the managerial sack race intensifies and Ronald Koeman and Craig Shakespeare find themselves clutching their P45’s, two clubs are on the lookout for a new manager to save their seasons.
Leicester City, desperate to reclaim their fairytale success of 2015-16, decided that despite a run of games against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, their start wasn’t good enough, while Everton axed Koeman after a 5-2 humbling at home to the Gunners.
There are some big names out of work right now too – the likes of Thomas Tuchel and Carlo Ancelotti are both ‘between clubs’, so fans of the two aforementioned teams are currently salivating at the thought of who they could attract in the near future.
However, one man who has said he “is interested” in BOTH jobs is Ryan Giggs.
Now then, I’ve got nothing against Ryan Giggs, THE PLAYER, but as a manager, what exactly has he done to warrant showing interest in managerial positions in England’s top flight?
Since retiring, Giggs took up a coaching role at Man United under David Moyes and then spent two years as Louis van Gaal’s assistant. Now that’s not a bad start to life learning the trade, but since then, Giggs has became a TV pundit, passing comment on teams from the comfort of a sofa, alongside other retired players.
Why stop? Is that enough of an apprenticeship in Giggsy’s mind? And when you consider the reputation Louis van Gaal built up at Manchester United (as arguably their most negative-minded manager in the past 20 years), has he really learnt enough from top coaches?
People will undoubtedly point to the years of playing under Sir Alex Ferguson as something that will mould his style in the dugout, but is there any guarantee of a softly spoken Welshman turning himself into anything close to the mastermind that was Fergie.
When managers find themselves out of work, some use their contacts around the world (built up from years of scouting, negotiations and otherwise) to go and spend time at other clubs, learning about other managers techniques from the comfort of their training pitches. Why not go and do that instead of taking the easy route of TV and media work? I’m sure any manager from any country wouldn’t mind Giggs coming over and spending a few days at their club (it would even give their players a lift, seeing a legend of the game come to join in a few sessions).
Another sure-fire way of getting a Premier League manager’s job is…to go and be a manager elsewhere first. It’s a crazy theory, I know, but it works.
Giggs has said he’d take a Championship job if one became available, but that hasn’t materialised as yet and to be honest with the rate Premier League jobs become available these days, I’d stick a bet on Giggs waiting it out until someone takes the plunge and gives him a job in the top flight.
But there is more to life in management than the Premier League and even the actions of Paul Scholes – one of Giggs’ best friends – should be ringing bells in his head.
Scholes interviewed for the Oldham Athletic job last week, and would likely have been given the job if Richie Wellens hadn’t done a good job in interim charge.
Is there anything stopping Giggs dropping down the leagues and getting a foothold in management? By the way, Giggs literally owns part of Salford City FC, so if it was a case of no one giving him a job, he could always do something there (even coaching, anything to get more qualified for a future job).
People will also point to other legendary players getting jobs in management without being the most qualified of individuals, but for every Zinedine Zidane, there’s more than a few Gary Neville’s…
Let’s go through the three names that get thrown around when this particular argument rears its head; Zinedine Zidane, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
Zinedine Zidane retired from playing and immediately took up a role working within Real Madrid. Initially, he was a ‘special advisor’ to then-manager Mourinho, before becoming Sporting Director a year later. Then he moved into coaching, first becoming assistant to Carlo Ancelotti, and then going on to take charge of Real Madrid Castilla.
In fairness, he didn’t set the world alight when he was Castilla manager, averaging just 1.61 points per game over 41 games, but the important thing was that he was in the right place at the right time when the axe fell on Madrid’s first-team manager, Rafa Benitez. Boom, Zidane was in, and he’s never looked back.
Pep Guardiola took a similar route to Zidane, taking charge of ‘Barcelona B’ in Spain’s third tier, winning promotion and moulding his philosophy and playing style on a promising squad. When Frank Rijkaard was let go at the end of the 2007-08 season, Guardiola made the step up to the first team. Boom, Pep was off and running as a manager.
Jose Mourinho’s route was slightly different, instead choosing good old fashioned hard work to build up relationships that would eventually land him a managerial role at Benfica, before moving onto Porto and winning the Champions League in 2004. Jose learned from Sir Bobby Robson as an interpreter (not exactly close to a manager’s job), before following Robson to Porto, then Barcelona, before turning down the chance to become Robson’s assistant at Newcastle United, opting to stay in Spain and learn from another manager, a certain Louis van Gaal.
Mourinho impressed LVG so much that he and the Dutchman would actually swap roles for certain competitions, such as the Copa Catalunya, which Mourinho won in 2000. Then Benfica came calling, then Uniao de Leiria, then Porto and boom, Jose was on his way to the top.
Compare these three stories to what Giggs is doing right now – it’s a total non-comparison. Sitting on a sofa picking apart teams performances isn’t going to prove to anyone that pundits make good managers – Gary Neville seen to that during his ill-fated spell at Valencia (think about it – how many pundits have swapped the TV studio for a successful career in management? Think Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, Martin Keown, Garth Crooks – the list is endless).
Giggs is in the wrong place to get a top job – he’s relying on his playing career to get him into the dugout. Don’t get me wrong, it might work in the end, and he might go on to become a top manager in his own right, but if it does it will be through a club showing compassion, rather than one looking at all the years of preparation he’s done in the time he’s been retired.