On Sunday Michael Carrick followed a path trodden before by TJ Wallworth, Walter Crickmer, Jimmy Murphy, Sir Matt Busby, Ryan Giggs and his predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, by becoming Manchester United’s seventh caretaker manager (or, more precisely in the cases of Messrs Wallworth and Crickmer – in his first spell – caretaker secretary-managers).
Carrick, who joined United’s coaching staff in 2018 at the end of his playing career, graduated from his Uefa Pro Licence course with the class of 2020-21 alongside Casey Stoney, Kolo Toure and his former team-mate Quinton Fortune, and will take charge for the visits of Villarreal on Tuesday and, presumably, Chelsea on Sunday at least. Given how determined they were to stand by Solskjaer and how seemingly unprepared they were for having to sack him, United would be keen to make Carrick the interim manager until the end of the season, giving them time to appoint a new CEO and lure their preferred candidate away from his current job.
The end of the first part of World Cup qualifying does open up the intriguing possibility of them appointing someone who has already qualified with his national team until the end of May, ‘the Hiddink option’ as its known, given the World Cup is not until November 2022. There are so few ‘elder statesmen’ candidates around, despite them being likely to earn several million quid should they help United qualify for the Champions League, that employing someone on a job-share might be the best route should Carrick, who was part of the previous two management teams, fail to make an instant impact.
Of the currently unemployed management Lao Tzus, one would have to say Marcello Lippi (73) Fabio Capello (75) and Sven Goran-Eriksson (73) are probably too old to come under consideration despite Jupp Heynckes’ successful last stint at Bayern at the age of 72. Steve McClaren has the Manchester United background but is entirely implausible, Jogi Low hasn’t managed in club football for 17 years and Ronald Koeman’s stock has fallen through the floor. Arsene Wenger? Give over.
Of the World Cup managers, Carlos Queiroz would be a strong candidate given his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo and Sir Alex Ferguson, but Egypt have still got another round of qualification to go in March. What about the manager of Holland who has won six domestic titles in Germany, Holland and Spain, the Champions League, hasn’t much on in the first half of next year and knows Manchester United intimately? Ladies and gentlemen I give you … Louis van Gaal.
Join us for Carrick’s first words in the hot seat from 1pm.