When Kenny Dalglish resigned as Liverpool manager in 1991, the Liverpool winning formula went with him. Graeme Souness took over and it gradually got worse from there. Much of it was Souness’ fault and some of it was just bad luck.
Today, Manchester United stand at the crossroads between continued success or decline and lessons should be learned from Liverpool’s league demise.
Souness fought with the old guard and effectively cleaned them out of the club. With the likes of Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler starting their professional careers, Souness should have been able to continue winning while replacing the aging superstars through natural progression.
However, he caused division and he took a broom to what had gone before, alienating nearly many associated with the club’s previous success.
After 13 league titles and eight European titles in less than 30 years, Liverpool have not won the league since and their European form has been a shadow of the glory years. The Kop craves league success more than anything, but the link with the glory days has gone and a new winning mentality and history needs to be built. Liverpool need to find a new Bill Shankly from somewhere.
Brendan Rodgers is flirting with Kop glory by winning with an attractive, attacking style. It remains to be seen if he can pull it off, but, for the great Liverpool FC, it has been a lengthy wait.
Manchester United have Ryan Giggs, along with his buddies, Paul Scholes, the Neville brothers, who all have the Manchester United winning formula engrained in their football souls.
Pep Guardiola showed how club experience can make up for managerial inexperience in a big way when he won everything in his first season at Barcelona.
Giggs would be the popular choice for everyone involved for the permanent manager's job, including the neutrals. His rival, Louis Van Gaal, is not known for his personal charm shall we say, or his staying power.
The Manchester United board may ‘bottle it’ and go for the qualified, top-drawer European manager.They could not be blamed if he was a failure of Souness-like proportions and people may stop watching the share price quite so intently.
The average football supporter will think that Giggs is worth the risk that they took with Moyes, for a start Giggs makes more sense than Moyes ever did.
The decision in these situations is normally based on whether the guy with the money has ever kicked a ball, how much time he spends watching football and if he does watch football, whether he wears club colours. You can see why the media is all over Van Gaal.
In the uncertainty, there is one thing of which we can be certain: if Van Gaal becomes ‘The Obvious One’, Giggs will be distraught and we may see Manchester United join the ranks of ‘swing-door-management’ clubs, spending and sacking their way to success.
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