Saturday, June 09, 2007

Carlos Queiroz - the man to replace Fergie?

Over the course of the last few seasons the role of United's assistant manager Carlos Queiroz has been questioned on a number of occasions, it wasn't that long ago that there was even talk of a player revolt against the former Real Madrid coach and what was viewed as our negative 4-5-1 formation as opposed to our all action 4-4-2 'attack, attack, attack, attack, attack' edge of the seat all action game.

Back then the speculation was that Queiroz was the man to blame for our dull and uninspiring football, which may or may not have been true. You see that is part of the problem when you're on the outside looking in, unless you're actually involved, you do not know for sure exactly what is going on at the club. However, there was enough stories attributed to key players doing the rounds to suggest that there was some substance to the fickle finger of fate being pointed at the Portuguese coach.

So at that particular time, Carlos Queiroz was our very own pantomime villain, cast as the dark lord of negativity, he appeared to fit the bill perfectly. Whenever something went wrong at the club many fans were quick to point the finger at Queiroz. This is human nature, for some reason we all need to blame our shortcomings on somebody else and at United that somebody else was Queiroz.

However, I for one have never bought into blaming the assistant coach because ultimately the manager is to blame. Fergie takes the plaudits when things go well, so he should carry the can when things go pear shaped, but at United when things went well Fergie took the plaudits and when it badly it was blamed on Quieroz - the Portuguese coach simply could not win.

Move forward to the season just gone and what has happened to our negative football and the Quieroz blame game? United have just won the league by attacking teams as in the days of yore and by scoring a hat full of goals most weeks, there has been little or no talk of the players or even the fans blaming Queiroz or Ferguson - with the possible exception of our final league game of the season against West Ham.

Europe is of course another kettle of fish entirely, it is here that the 'combined brain' that is Ferguson and Queiroz have come up short tactically time and time again. Not much has changed in that respect. Sure Reds fans would love to see United winning the Champions League more often and it hurt like hell to see the 'bin-dippers' winning the big one in Istanbul. In the eyes of many fans, Ferguson has under achieved in Europe, as Fergie would say 'there's no question about that'. So conquering Europe remains an unsolved puzzle for the man from Govan and his much maligned assistant.

So how much longer will Sir Alex be around? The man has most recently strongly hinted that his health will always be his first consideration - and quite right too - no one wants to see the manager going out as Jock Stein did. On Ferguson's eventual replacement Fergie has stated more than once that he believes Queiroz is the man to replace him - which predictably went down like a lead balloon with the fans.

When you think about it, it's a bit like what is going on in the Labour party right now, Tony Blair, like him and his policies or not, is a very charismatic leader and the party have chose succession as opposed to revolution by appointing Gordon Brown as Blair's replacement - yet Brown is viewed as being dull and slightly boring.

The same sort of succession could well happen at OT, but before we the fans, cast the first stone, let us not forget that Queiroz must have been instrumental in helping Cristiano Ronaldo settle during early days at United, because for new players who do not speak English the language barrier is a huge hurdle to overcome.

More recently it was Queiroz - not Ferguson and David Gill who travelled to Portugal to sign up Nani and Anderson - we didn't hear the fans slaughtering Queiroz then did we?

Forgetting about the blame game and again from the outside looking in, I'd suggest that United have got this management team just about right. We have a manager who is a born winner who hates losing at anything, alongside him we have a coach who can speak several languages and has a vast amount of management experience, between them, the combined brain has somehow managed to claw back the title from the evil grip of Chelski and we have done it playing football 'the United way'. The club are also signing players in the United mould - so all is *rosy red in our garden at the moment.

Whether or not Queiroz could do the job on his own only time and events will tell, Ferguson would know best on that score. There may even be a scenario whereby the club brought back someone like Mark Hughes to replace Fergie while retaining the other half of the combined brain, Carlos, as his assistant.

Whoever eventually replaces Ferguson one thing you can be sure of, it wont be dull for long, because United don't do dull...

* Everything is rosy red apart from matters off the pitch concerning ownership and the clubs debts plus the cost of match tickets.

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