Many football clubs change direction so often they make themselves dizzy.
They’ll try this way and that way, something new, something bold and when that doesn’t work, usually something safe. Then, inevitably they’ll usually end up giving the first way another bash; and so on.
Constantly in a spin, they don’t tend to get very far.
Manchester United isn’t that kind of institution.
Barring a skittish ants-in-their-pants period in the 70’s and early 80’s – when seven different men briefly occupied the hot seat – the Red Devils have employed just two long term managers in the last 68 years; Sir Matt Busby, and of course for the past 27 seasons, Don Fergie himself.
Since his takeover in the double denim days of 1986, it’s been a largely smooth, skilfully steered ride for Manchester United fans. In spite of winds of change blowing all around them, they’ve never had to alter their course.
But Sir Alex can’t drive the ship forever.
If you believe the bookies it’s a three-way fight between David Moyes, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho to replace him. All big enough, tough enough, and skilful enough to handle the responsibility - but are they ‘United’ enough?
If consulted (which surely he will be) I’m convinced the 71-year-old Scot would prefer to pass the baton on to somebody from the family he’s created. He’ll want a person that feels the essence of Man United, who knows the secrets to how they go about achieving their success.
After all, this isn’t a club that needs a drastic change of direction. More of the same would do just fine thank you very much.
I’m convinced he’ll propose Ryan Giggs.
At 39, the bionic Welshman – who is almost certain to celebrate his 1,000th senior appearance this week - may not possess managerial experience but nobody knows more about what it takes to win trophies for Manchester United.
Legend has it Sir Alex first fell for Giggsy’s footballing charms as he watched the 13-year-old in action through his office window in the 1986 Christmas school holidays. And aside from a brief rebellious phase involving buxom blondes and handful of Lee Sharpe inspired nightclub escapades, it’s been one long, perfectly scripted love story ever since.
No one has stood side-by-side with the manager for longer.
This of course would mean nothing if Giggs wasn’t management material. But he is.
I can’t claim to know him personally, but we have met in person at least a dozen times and with every chat I’ve grown more confident that he will one day be the boss.
Extremely polite, interested in what others have to say, serious about his football, but also up for a laugh; I believe man-management will come easy to him.
He also has the look. You know the one. The kind of ice cold glare that makes a grown man quiver from 40 yards. Pricking a player into life doesn’t have to involve a hairdryer.
And then there’s the knowledge. Who else has spent his whole life watching arguably the best manager we’ve ever seen, while also spending time at close quarters with Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes and Cristiano Ronaldo; to name just a few?
Yet his most important ingredient, just like Ferguson, is drive.
Giggs’ hunger to prolong his playing days is there for all to see. He once told me that when United don’t win the title it ruins his summer holiday completely. He just can’t switch off and enjoy himself.
It matters not that he’s won more championships than anyone else already. The joy of winning, to him, will never taste as bad as the hurt of defeat.
That’s management material.
In recent years Giggs has been busy acquiring his UEFA A & B coaching badges, and he’s currently studying for a UEFA Pro licence - a qualification that’s never been earned by a current player. He’s not messing around.
No one quite knows when Fergie is going to call it a day, but I have a funny feeling he won’t do so until his protégé is in possession of that certificate he needs in order to manage in the Premier League and Champions League. A player-coach role in the next couple of years could bridge the gap nicely.
With a formula that works, and at a time when young bosses are all the rage, it just seems to add up.
If the good ship Manchester United wishes to carry on sailing towards silverware in the manner in which they’re accustomed, Ryan Giggs could easily be the next long term manager to steer them on their way.
Don’t tell anyone, but you can get a decent price on him getting the job too. Can you ignore odds of 10.00 that Giggs will become the Manchester United manager by 2017, when it makes so much sense?