If I were Manchester United, I’d get a permanent manager in right away. I don’t care who you are, what club you’re at, you need to start now. You’ve got six months to get us on course, show us how we’re going to play, identify who you want to sign, and show us what our future is.
The players will want to know where they are going. It’s a grey area for the squad, which won’t help them. I do think it’s still possible for United to get top four, if they get the right man in. Possible, but not probable.
As for the Class of ’92, that time has gone.
You might as well go after Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton, from the class of whatever that was. It’s now we’re talking about. It’s a new dawn, and it’s time to produce new heroes.
The Class of ’92 can still do a job as ambassadors, but it has to be someone new who comes in, with a fresh mentality, and takes it forward.
If it were up to me, the first manager I’d call would be Mauricio Pochettino. And I think that’s who they will call. But I’d also throw Gareth Southgate into the mix. Being in international management, he’s had the time and space to study modern football, to understand it. You can see that from what England did in the World Cup.
It’s clear he understands young players, knows how to deal with them, and how to talk to them, but still with that old-fashioned level of discipline, all the while being likeable and respected.
I think he deserves a big job, and United could do much worse.
United could go 20 years without a title – and Pogba should be sold
The decision making at Manchester United over the last five years or so has got them into a position where this next manager has to be THE appointment. There was a time when United had gone 20-odd years without a title. If this next appointment doesn’t work, you can see them going into that kind of drought again.
There has to be more thought put into the club’s structure. They’ve been lazy with their scouting – ‘oh, this one wants £500,000 a week? OK, we’ll give it to him’. What’s the philosophy of their signings? Have players come in to improve and get better, or have they come in to live off the strip, to pick up the cash, and enjoy the ride?
Too many have been doing the latter, and not adding to the history of Manchester United. For some of them, the club’s too big.
So I think Paul Pogba needs to leave. He’ll go on to be another success elsewhere, but he’s affecting everyone at the club. Everybody made out of the deal to sign him apart from the fans. It’s best for him to move on.
Between him and Jose, they’ve had a terrible effect on the club. When they were going at it, the rest of the squad must’ve thought ‘hello, stop worrying about yourselves, there’s another 20 of us here’.
It was like a soap opera, and it was allowed to happen.
United had to get rid of the manager, and I think they have to get rid of Pogba, too.
Football left Mourinho behind
Sacking Jose Mourinho won’t just fix everything for Manchester United, they’ve still got huge problems.
What happened with Jose was that he still believed that what he did was right, no matter what the circumstances were, he felt he could always build a team that would fight off the new trends of high tempo, of pressing, and of energy. When he was appointed, he decided he was going to build the biggest, strongest, most physical team you’ve ever seen. They were giants at one point.
But that didn’t work, because the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino have changed the game. Fitness is a must in modern football, and the trends of quick transitions and instant counter attacks.
Manchester United couldn’t do that, because they needed so many touches to set themselves, that they let their opponents get behind the ball. Despite that, Mourinho believed he was right, even though the results were saying he wasn’t.
He was a fantastic manager, who made us think about the game over the last 15 years, as players, coaches, pundits and fans.
But the modern game has moved on. And Jose is still living in the past.
Even in his interviews, he was always referring to the past. It was never about the future and the players playing now. It was other players and teams that had won trophies with him.
I’m afraid that his players won’t have wanted to hear that. Things weren’t going great for their team, they didn’t want to hear what John Terry or Frank Lampard did, what Inter and Porto won.
You want the manager to say he’ll improve you, he’ll protect you. Instead of talking about yourself, gaffer, can you give me a bit of success too?
People talk about players playing for the manager, but I can’t remember ever thinking I needed to win for Sir Alex Ferguson or Ron Atkinson or Billy McNeill.
I needed to win for myself, for the team-mates standing alongside me, for my family, and the fans cheering me on.
The United players, recently, will have been thinking that Mourinho wasn’t with them. It’s very hard, because you know he doesn’t trust you, he’s made that clear. That stays with you in your subconscious all the time. It happened to me in my career, it put doubts in my mind if I was a decent player, and it affected me as a player.
If you know he doesn’t want you there, it’s hard on the players. He was always going on about ‘me, me, me’. And, clearly, Jose was suffering from burn-out. We’ve seen that from other managers, and he needed somebody around him to tell him that.
Now, he has to go away, have a rest, and think about whether he wants to come back. If he still has that fire, because you need that to be a success.