Sunday 25 February 2018

Alan Hansen: Red Devils should hand Fergie mentor role to ease Giggs into hot-seat

Manchester United should make former manager Sir Alex Ferguson a mentor to Ryan Giggs
Manchester United should make former manager Sir Alex Ferguson a mentor to Ryan Giggs

Alan Hansen

IF Alex Ferguson is prepared to let Ryan Giggs be his own man at Manchester United, the club could have the perfect solution to their managerial dilemma already in place.

United are at a critical point in their history and risk creating footballing Armageddon if they make another mistake when appointing David Moyes' successor. If they get it wrong again, they face the prospect of four or five years outside the Champions League and a new reality of failing to compete for the Premier League title.

However, the problem they have is that there is no obvious candidate or solution to the big issue of finding the right man to take the job on and restore the club to where they expect to be.

If Giggs can oversee a winning run to the end of this season, the tidal wave of support in his favour would make it impossible for the Glazer family to resist calls to hand him the job on a permanent basis.

Is Giggs ready for it? The answer to that question would have to be no, because he does not have the necessary experience for the job, but he does have many of the qualities required for a position of that magnitude.

Top-level managerial or coaching experience is the one glaring omission from his CV, but you could then argue that the leading candidate, Louis van Gaal, is right on the edge of suitability because he is 62 and United probably need a younger man.


The irony for United is that Giggs, with Ferguson involved in a mentor or advisory role, would appear to be the perfect fit. You would have the young manager, who is a club legend and the most decorated player in United's history, working in tandem with the guy who brought incredible success to Old Trafford.

A similar arrangement worked for Liverpool when Kenny Dalglish took charge in 1985 when he was just 34. With Kenny so young and inexperienced, the club brought Bob Paisley back to Anfield to act as a sounding board and adviser, and it worked magnificently.

There is no reason why Giggs and Ferguson could not work just as well at United, but the danger is that Ferguson would be too great a presence for Giggs to be his own man.

At Liverpool, Kenny would seek out Bob's advice now and again, but there was never any suggestion that Bob was the power behind the throne. He had retired two years earlier, so he had been away twice as long as Ferguson has, and he was a quiet man with no interest in offering his opinion to a wider audience.

Ferguson might well be prepared to keep his own counsel and say nothing if he were to be handed the opportunity to work with Giggs, but he is such a massive figure that it would be very difficult for the new man to escape suggestions that he was just doing his mentor's bidding.

Giggs would also be taking on a much more difficult job than the one Kenny inherited. When Joe Fagan retired and handed over to Kenny, Liverpool had ended the 1984-85 season with nothing.

But while the same applies to whoever takes the United job this time, Liverpool had finished second in the league and reached the European Cup final, so the difference between the two teams is like night and day.

Kenny made only one signing, bringing in Steve McMahon from Aston Villa, and we won the double in his first season in charge, but United have to rebuild – they need a new back four for a start.

So, the new man has to spend huge sums of money and get it right. And having played as a defender, I can assure you that even spending £150m on a new back four will not guarantee a successful unit.

United are in the nightmare situation of needing a quick fix and stability at the same time and there is nobody out there who you could say is the outstanding candidate to take the job on and make it work straight away.

That is why Giggs could end up as the man in charge if the next three games play out in the same manner as the 4-0 win against Norwich City in his first match in charge. Nobody will spend too much time pointing out that games against Norwich, Sunderland, Hull and Southampton – the first three at Old Trafford – is a very soft landing for the interim manager, not enough to judge his credentials properly.

However, Giggs has to be in the frame and I can only see the end result being that he is the next permanent United manager. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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