Alex Ferguson has said that Ryan Giggs is not the man to replace him as Manchester United coach when he eventually steps down at Old Trafford.
Giggs, who has spent six years getting his coaching badges, is set to make his 1000th professional appearance this afternoon, but Ferguson has said United need an experienced man to step into his shoes when he bows out.
Ferguson, pictured, also admitted that United passed up the opportunity to sign Robin van Persie when he was at Feyenoord nearly 11 years ago but is convinced the Dutchman, who is inspiring United to their 20th league title this season, regrets not leaving Arsenal sooner in his career. Ferguson also wants United to follow Bayern Munich’s model of employing former players in senior positions to work throughout the club, and claimed that changing managers on a regular basis, as has happened at Chelsea under Roman Abramovich, is damaging to the team and gives players too much power in the dressing-room.
“I think, for my successor, it must be a coach with experience,” he said. “They [Giggs and Paul Scholes] must start with youth players, reserves. They have time. In ten years, we’ll see where they are. Both are intelligent, determined workers.
“I see them integrated in the staff, just like Gerd Müller and Sepp Maier at Bayern Munich. Today you can see Tarnat, Dremmler, Breitner and many other former players who work for the club.
“At Bayern, the big players exert a strong influence on the lives of the group. They are part of the administrative, financial and diplomatic structure with Beckenbauer, Rummenigge, Hoeness. This is also why they need a manager. And they found one from outside with Pep Guardiola.”
Ferguson was speaking to L’Equipe Magazine in a wide-ranging interview published this morning. He also spoke about United’s top scorer this season, van Persie, and how United passed him over after watching him as a teenager.
“We spotted Robin in Holland when he was 18,” revealed Ferguson. “We watched a Feyenoord reserve game and he was sent off. Jimmy Ryan, our scout who was watching, said: ‘He is a fantastic talent, but he needs to improve his behaviour and control his frustration’. We gave up then. We were wrong on that one, but it happens. It happened.”
Van Persie has scored 23 goals in 32 United appearances this season and is favourite to win the Player of the Year award.
Ferguson knew that van Persie had the personality to succeed at Old Trafford and is now certain the striker regrets not joining United sooner. In eight years at Arsenal, he won the FA Cup but that was in his first season.
“Robin plays with Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Giggs, Scholes, Carrick and these guys, they are winners!” said Ferguson. “This mentality, he breathes it in every minute and without doubt he should tell himself that he should have signed here much earlier. I’m only interested in players who want to play for United and who are bad losers, like me. Van Persie meets these requirements. He integrated quickly.”
Ferguson went on to explain that his senior players, Giggs and Scholes, look after the dressing-room for him but that has only happened because he has spent so long at the club.
“Giggs and Scholes were not even 14 when they arrived here. It is easy at that age to nurture them. You’re the one who gave them a chance, who is taking them where they dream of going and taking care of them,” he explained.
“They’re never absent. Never late. They’re 39 and 38! The values they embody, as a necessity, seep into those who sit next to them in the dressing-room. You can’t fool these guys, or take them for idiots. Clubs change managers too often and this empowers players and the dressing-room. This is very dangerous.”
He revealed how he struggled to cope with the blow of losing the title so late to Manchester City last season but is ready to see off their title threat in the future: “For us, losing the title created a feeling of emptiness, frustration. I had not felt that bad for a long time. But at United, we like challenges. Arsenal offered us a challenge. We rose to it. Then it was the turn of Chelsea. We rose to that. It lasted six or seven years. Now it’s time for City. We’re ready.”
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