In the wake of Manchester United’s 4-1 drubbing at the hands of local rivals Manchester City, the bookmakers’ odds on David Moyes not being the United manager up to the end of the season will probably have shortened considerably.
Indeed it will be interesting to view their odds after such a comprehensive defeat as this one.
In the unpredictable world of football, there sometimes appears little on the surface of club boards to suggest change and the United board would be loath to make a knee-jerk response. But after failing to defeat two main title contenders while being beaten by their fierce rivals in the space of three weeks, David Moyes has brought the pressure to bear on himself.
Without wanting to sound alarmist, it is the insipid manner in which the team has played, not to mention a poor return of one goal and one point out of a possible nine (against main rivals) that will not please the club’s millions around the world and I daresay, even the board.
Expect to hear the usual “No panic” and “Moyes’ job is safe” mantra even as the pressure builds but for now allow me to put forward the case for Guus Hiddink to take over if, as the whispers are starting, the job turns out to be too big for David Moyes.
Guus Hiddink falls into a bracket of celebrated coaches who tend to succeed more than they fail. He is a coach of the highest order with a proven record, often in unfashionable and difficult circumstances. From the Far East and Australasia to the cold Russian winters and the volcanic football terrain of Turkey, Hiddink has travelled the world accumulating success in no small measure. He has dealt with some of the biggest egos in world football, brought the best out of them and sometimes, sent them packing, yet maintained huge respect in the process.
Hiddink managed a supremely gifted Dutch national team to the World Cup semi-finals in 1998 where they lost on penalties to Brazil. The Dutch team featured the likes of Marc Overmaars, Philip Cocu, the de Boer twins Frank and Ronald, Edgar Davids, Denis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert, among a star-studded side. He has also managed the Australian side to the knockout stages, where they unluckily lost to Italy in the 2006 edition, but it is probably his astonishing run with then Asian minnows South Korea in the 2002 World Cup that best illustrated his excellent coaching skills and ability to motivate and bring the best out of players. That run to the semi-finals earned him cult-like status in South Korea. He also led Russia to the semi-finals of Euro 2008.
Few people are aware that Hiddink actually won the Treble with PSV Eindhoven (Dutch Cup, Eredivisie or Dutch league title and European Cup) in 1988 and that he is the most successful Dutch coach with six Dutch titles, four Dutch Cups and the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League). For a country that has produced the legendary Rinus Michels (best known for inventing Total football), this is no mean feat. He has also won the Intercontinental Cup with Real Madrid, despite an ultimately futile spell there, while Chelsea fans always remember him fondly for their FA Cup success of 2009.
Motivation and Man-Management
Hiddink commands the respect of players and staff alike and is not afraid to make bold decisions. He famously ejected Edgar Davids from the Dutch team of Euro ’96 and after that indisciplined run had them playing excellently two years later in their run to the semi-finals of France ’98. He prefers to share his success with the players and staff alike, but in it all retains a fierce competitiveness aligned to an attractive style that is pleasing to watch. He also tends to bring the best out of players from the very talented (read Ronaldo and Edgar Davids, Romario) to the not so talented (read the Australian 2006 World Cup team).
Wherever he has managed, Hiddink has proved to be a master tactician with the ability to make crucial changes during a match that alters the course of games. His style almost always tends to blend into the personnel at his disposal and based on the age-old Dutch tradition, his ability to spot genuine talent is remarkable. He would bring an aesthetic yet successful style to United although he is often known to be pragmatic when the need or personnel at his disposal dictate so.
All in all, this is one outstanding candidate for possibly replacing David Moyes. He was linked with the Barcelona job before Tata Martino was appointed and as one can imagine, a coach of his pedigree would find Manchester United hard to turn down. The only question is whether the United board would consider him a bit too old but a 3-year contract while grooming some up and coming candidates like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would not go amiss. That would not only give the club a better time to groom or spot a younger candidate but would maintain the success that United enjoyed under Ferguson that is at real risk of vanishing under David Moyes.
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