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REJECT PEP! Why Man Utd must not rip up Giggs succession plan

COMMENT: Waking up to the morning's headlines, Ryan Giggs must be thinking "What am I? Scotch mist?!"

Guardiola to United, scream the backpages today. The Bayern Munich coach, it seems, wants the Manchester United job when he leaves Germany. For all the groundwork laid by his old Barcelona pals Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain at Manchester City, it's Old Trafford where Guardiola sees his next destination - which is good of him.

And the story goes, this has presented United with a dilemma. Do they rip up Louis van Gaal's contract 12 months early to accommodate Guardiola in June? Or allow him to move across town to City? But, there's someone missing in all this. Erm, what about Giggsy?

Van Gaal's assistant coach is being groomed to succeed him in 2017. The Dutchman has been very open about the succession plan, even admitting Anthony Martial was signed for Giggs, after the Welshman had spent months last season personally scouting the then AS Monaco striker.

The idea that Ed Woodward, the United executive vice-chairman, and the club's board should drop everything and roll out the Red carpet for Guardiola is ridiculous. The plan for Giggs, after serving a four-year apprenticeship, first with David Moyes and now with LVG, of taking the manager's job must be adhered to. The Welshman - as a symbolic gesture - is the last hope the club has of maintaining a connection with its traditional ideals.

Win, lose or draw, the general complaint now coming out of the United support is Van Gaal's possession football. It's been a slow burn, but they're now over it. And they're also not interested in the opinions of Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand demanding they "get used" to this new type of game. Why should they? Especially when Jurgen Klopp is introducing his thrill-a-minute stuff at Liverpool.

"I want to see goals, tackles, players taking players on and getting the crowd up. I want the passion that should come with being a Manchester United player," that was Giggs two years ago sounding like Klopp today.

"I want players to play with speed and tempo and be brave with imagination, all the things that are expected of a Manchester United player."

Those words hardly match the United of this season - nor last. But the one thing fans can cling onto is that Giggs will succeed Van Gaal in 2017. And most likely inherit a Champions League-qualified team.

For all the mega spending on Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao. The possession football. The dumping of wingers. There is still a thread running through the club, from Sir Alex to Big Ron, all the way back to Sir Matt. And that's Giggs.

Slam the door on the famous No11. Force him to go elsewhere to kickoff his new career. And United will be changed forever.

And they'll also accept the notion that the club is second best. After all, Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed earlier this year that he offered the job to Guardiola before turning to Moyes. The former Barcelona coach was available, living in New York. The offer from Fergie was informal - but serious. However, the next thing the Scot heard was that Guardiola had signed with Bayern Munich. The idea that now, after he's done his two years in Munich, United should turn everything upside-down for him is ludicrous.

Fergie has always said United is a bus that waits for no-one. And that should still apply today to Guardiola.

He had his chance. That should be it. The Stretford End will have gone through two years of Van Gaal's possession football. Another three of the same under Guardiola? How are they going to handle that?

And even if you look past the possession game, is Guardiola the right manager for United? There's no Lionel Messi at United. Nor Andres Iniesta or Xavi. At Barca, he had to overcome Real Madrid. In Germany, it's been even easier. Inheriting Jupp Heynckes' treble winners, Guardiola has simply strengthened the case that the Bundesliga is a one-team competition.

Like in Spain, the only way Bayern are toppled is if they're dragged back to the pack. No German rival have the resources to surpass - let alone match - Bayern when everything is running smoothly.

In contrast, at this stage in their history, United are one of six very good teams in England. If not more. Guardiola's never worked outside the top two. No matter what the apologists claim, there is a chasm between working at Bayern or Barca compared with one of the top six in England.

Guardiola will be welcome in England. He'll be box office. And at Manchester City, he'll have the resources available to build a competitive team. But the Premier League will be no stroll. It'll test him like never before.

Allowing Guardiola to move to City will appear risky for Woodward and the United board. But these days, the Premier League doesn't do dynasties, just ask Jose Mourinho and Chelsea. The greater risk is what rejecting Giggs and hiring the Spaniard would do to the fabric of Manchester United.

Woodward needs to keep his nerve, stick with the plan and show the fans that United still believe in their traditions.


INJURY TIME

Don't blame Basti! It's a disgrace that Bastian Schweinsteiger is getting it in the neck from some of the old Boot Room.

From the comfy sofa, Paul Scholes slaughtered Schweinsteiger last week, while Rio Ferdinand branded him "zero threat".

But what's galling is that in the same breath, the pair of 'em criticise Louis van Gaal's possession football. They know the paint-by-numbers system of LVG. They know that every player must be in a certain place on the pitch at any given moment of possession.

Basti, like every United player, is having to perform in a strait-jacket to carry out the manager's methods. As one anonymous United player put it this week, the German is only being allowed to be "half the player" he could be due to Van Gaal's system.

Schweinsteiger isn't six months into his time at Old Trafford. He's arrived from a foreign competition. Yet, he's still managed to establish himself as a leader on and off the pitch at United. Basti is already one of the most popular players in the locker room and his influence is growing beyond the senior squad.

He's already proved himself an excellent signing. And at 31, he's not over the hill. It was he who forced the injury-time winner at Watford a fortnight ago.

When the likes of Scholes and Ferdinand take aim at someone like Schweinsteiger, there should be some push back from the host. What about Van Gaal's system? Name another import who's settled as well as Basti in central midfield. Find us someone who's arrived at another Premier League club and become a senior leader from the off.

The response will be crickets.

Schweinsteiger is the right man for United's midfield. And in another system, under a different manager, would be showing much, much more. Scholesy and Rio have to be aware of that.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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