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United must avoid 'Tender Trap' with Giggs

Ian Darke | ESPN FC
April 29, 2014
United mirror Giggs

Manchester United are in danger of falling into what Frank Sinatra once called a "Tender Trap."

Most fans, with mist in their eyes, might be seduced by the romantic notion of Ryan Giggs becoming the club's new manager on a permanent basis. After all, he has been at the club since he was a shy boy and been a key figure in no fewer than thirteen Premier League titles.

But his experience of management is zero - not even in the lower divisions, let alone in the rarefied air of the Premier League. As such, there really should be no debate in any contest between Giggs and proven elite-level European coaches like Louis van Gaal or Carlo Ancelotti.

That is not to say Giggs might not one day permanently occupy the very hot seat at Old Trafford, but it must surely be after an apprenticeship at United or elsewhere.

The 62-year-old Van Gaal is a combustible, self-confessed arrogant type who once told his Ajax chairman "Congratulations on appointing the best coach in the world." He would command instant respect in the Old Trafford dressing room - unlike David Moyes, who walked in without a trophy to his name despite the fine job he did at Everton. Meanwhile, van Gaal is a big personality, a blunt, "my way or the highway" character who has won silverware everywhere he has been - and that includes Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Ajax and even AZ Alkmaar.

Ancelotti could hardly be more different. Calm, affable, dignified, almost rustic and, according to his one-time Milan star Andrea Pirlo, "like a father and teacher." Should United be able to prise him away from Real Madrid - where he could still win a treble this season - his extra statesmanship might be United's preferred option.

Remember: he won a Premier League and FA Cup double with Chelsea during his last spell in England and it is no secret that he would welcome a return.

The job description at Old Trafford? Must have Champions League pedigree, fantastic man-management, be a top motivator, a clever tactician, a great judge of players and a winner. Anyone else need not apply.

In a confidential aside during his United tenure, Sir Alex Ferguson once observed: "At this place you can never be frightened of big decisions. You might get one or two wrong but you can never dither."

But availability is crucial and - bearing in mind their clumsy failures in the transfer market last summer - United might well want an early appointment. That puts van Gaal in pole position, even though he will be managing the Dutch national team at the World Cup until at least the end of June.

Whoever lands the job will need to carry out ruthless surgery on an ageing squad about whom Moyes was heard to remark: "I can't get any energy out of them."

Of course, those players really need to take a very hard long look in the mirror. Some, not all by any means, need to ask themselves if they really ever gave Moyes a chance. Stories abound of a whispering campaign against the Scot and one particular member of his coaching team.

But players at a club like United are paid a king's ransom to perform and they did not do it. Maybe some of them can't anymore.

Former captain Roy Keane said recently that "Some of those players should be ashamed of themselves." Nobody argued and Moyes pointedly refused to mention the players in his list of "thank yous" this week.

It is a sad episode in United's history, with news of Moyes' sacking leaked to journalists before he was told and the League Managers Association accusing United of being "unprofessional." Frankly, it has been a wretched first year for United's executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, who is yet to cover himself in glory.

While welcome, the 4-0 win over Norwich in Giggs' first game as interim manager proved nothing. The struggling Canaries were poor in defence and punchless in attack. They were there for the taking, and I have no doubt that a Moyes-led side would have also beaten them comfortably.

The real tests will come in the transfer market this summer, especially with no Champions League football to offer potential signings like Toni Kroos of Bayern Munich, Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain and Fabio Coentrao of Real Madrid.

That's why United have to make the right appointment this time. Even if United finish the season with two more 4-0 wins, a rookie like Giggs is not the answer no matter how big the emotional appeal.

Beware that "tender trap."

Carlo Ancelotti won a Premier League and FA Cup double with Chelsea and would welcome a return to England © Getty Images
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This article originally appeared on ESPN FC

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