Sir Alex Ferguson believes Chelsea would be making a mistake in sacking Jose Mourinho but has not said much about the future of Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United. Gary Monk was the favourite in the Premier League Sack Race but he has gone and Steve McLaren still has a great deal to do to see out the season with Newcastle. Jurgen Klopp and Claudio Ranieri have been backed to win the manager of the year award.
Monk’s days at Swansea looked numbered and Brendon Rodgers is primed to return to the club he has managed before. However, a pivotal match in this betting market was Chelsea’s crucial home Champions League fixture against Porto. It would be ironic if Mourinho’s failure to beat his old club could finally cause his demise at Stamford Bridge for the second time in his career. However, Chelsea beat Porto to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.
Ranieri gained a reputation for tinkering with formations at Chelsea. Ironically, he has been successful at Leicester by working with the squad he inherited. Jamie Vardy has helped a team tipped for relegation to be league leaders ahead of the crucial holiday period when squads will be stretched. If Liverpool win the league Klopp will be the manager of the year and given the freedom of the city. Unthinkably for United fans Liverpool could finish above them this season.
The club have failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League as the fallout from the departure of Fergie intensifies. David Moyes did not last a full season at Old Trafford and Van Gaal is struggling to see out two completed campaigns. If Mourinho becomes available he would walk up the motorway barefoot to be the next manager of the biggest and most famous club in the world. That club will be playing in the Europa League this season.
United are one of the superpowers of European football with vast revenues from television money and merchandising. It does not fit well with the business plan to be travelling to remote parts of the continent to play meaningless fixtures on Thursday evenings. One minor consolation is that they could become just the sixth club to win three different European competitions. Juventus, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Barcelona are the other teams on that list. However, the potential to win the Europa League may not be enough to secure Van Gaal his future.
United have become the goalless draw specialists but avoiding defeat is not good enough. Supporters expect winning with style and some drama at the Theatre of Dreams. Performances are like Greek tragedies or farces for the Hollywood club of English football. Van Gaal could soon suffer from the director’s cut and be on his way back to Holland and a role in the chorus line at home and not the leading man.
Any discussion about Van Gaal’s immediate future would be irrelevant in the context of the sack race as Monk’s sacking was imminent. Club officials were right in saying Monk could be fired this week after a slump in results has left Swansea just one point above the relegation places and facing the nightmare of dropping into the Championship. Rodgers managed the Swans when they gained their Premier League status in 2011 but money could be an issue as his career has moved on over the last four years.
Ferguson believes Roman Abramovich should not dispense with Mourinho’s services. At a function to promote his book on leadership he said: “Abramovich has to trust and have confidence that Jose can turn it around. There’s no point in sacking one of the best coaches of all time. He’s won the big trophies. It would be foolish to take that step to sack him.” The Russian oligarch is his own man and another damaging home defeat could be the final nail in the coffin of the not so Special One.
Newcastle turned current form on its head by beating Liverpool at home last weekend. They looked a shambolic club and team in disarray in recent fixtures. Liverpool have been playing scintillating football under Klopp so the win for Newcastle was unexpected. One swallow does not make a summer and McLaren is by no means out of the woods. He could survive as now high profile managers at big clubs in Mourinho and Van Gaal are under pressure. However, Monk put his managerial colleagues out of their misery by getting the boot at Swansea.
Have a Super Sunday and enjoy today’s sport!