What a miserable week. An embarrassing result and dismal team performance at Goodison Park was quickly followed by more ineptitude with Carlo quickly given his marching orders shortly after the final whistle. If reports are to be believed (let’s take this one with a fist of salt) the sacking happened in the players tunnel, West Ham style. For all our sakes Iet’s hope that the club has more class than that. Location notwithstanding there wasn’t any niceties in the message though, ‘thanks for the double Carlo but no thanks. Here’s a P45.’ Harsh? Yep. The right decision? Only time will tell.
As Manchester United fans look forward to a dream European Cup final at Wembley we’re without a manager and without a clue what next season will bring. I was firmly in the Keep Carlo camp because despite the mistakes this season he is an intelligent coach and I think he could improve on where things went wrong, if he had been given the chance. Continuity is the key word. Carlo not only knows the strengths and weaknesses of our first team squad and where to put them right, but also knows all about the youth and loan players coming through. If we are to genuinely embed these young players over the coming seasons it’s important that coaches don’t rely on established players that offer a short term fix. If the coach is under pressure to produce results or they are dealing with scrutiny from the board it’s a brave choice to take chances on younger players still learning the nuances of the top flight game. With the new financial rules on the horizon we need to utilise some of the talent the academy has developed. Quick fix solutions won’t give us a long term vision for success.
With a new coach coming in we don’t know what system they’ll prefer, the style of play, which players they’ll favour – it’s a completely unknown quantity. The coaching staff will have to work quickly to know the ins and outs of the playing staff and also the tactical styles of all our Premier League opponents. It’s a big ask to have them completely clued up to speed for the season kick off. Our main rivals for next year’s title have no such concerns and will be spending the summer thinking about nothing else but recruiting and preparing their players. It’s important that the club acts quickly in appointing a coach as we don’t want to be a disadvantage before the season even begins.
Despite Carlo’s success and how he dealt with the season’s ups and downs with dignity and humour we can’t deny that the team looked flat far too often this season. Compared to last season we were less dynamic in attack and the work rate and pressing were, far too often, sluggish. Changes were needed, no doubt. Rather than sack the coach it might have been better to change a few faces in the backroom team. Getting in a former player as a number two would add new ideas, tactical freshness and also offer the perfect opportunity to groom a managerial successor. It’s an idea that has already brought success north of the border with our preseason opponents Rangers.
Given all of these factors the new appointment won’t be easy but it is also why Gus Hiddink is the resounding favourite candidate. He is a world class coach, he can offer continuity and he can show the ropes to a younger coach if we get the right set up in place. But just like Carlo, Gus is a man of integrity and the odds are stacked from us being able to prise him from the Turkish FA. We know we need to see comings and goings in the squad this summer so it’s important that the board act quickly and strategically to appoint a coach who can deliver, not just for next season, but for the many more to come.