Former Manchester United stalwart Gary Neville says he knows who he wants to be the next Red Devils manager.
The footballer-turned-Sky Sports pundit is backing Jose Mourinho to be a success at Old Trafford, but believes that after being supported by the board with transfer investment and a new contract, it’s time for the Portuguese coach to deliver.
And at the same time he hinted that he already has an idea for Mourinho’s successor.
When asked about possible replacements for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal – having revealed he thinks the Frenchman will leave the Gunners at the end of the season – he held back on naming potential successors, but revealed his thoughts on his own club, Manchester United.
“I have no idea about stuff like that, I don’t get involved in that,” he told Yahoo Sport UK before a Q&A with fans at his Cafe Football restaurant in Stratford which he owns with former Old Trafford team-mates. “The idea of sitting here as a pundit and ex-professional and saying ‘I think he should be the next manager’ [doesn’t interest me].
“I do have an opinion on my own club, but I’m not willing to share it with you because I want Jose Mourinho to continue. I have a very clear idea of who I think the next Manchester United manager should be, but I want Jose Mourinho to be successful first before that happens.
“I believe he will be successful because he’s always been successful wherever he goes. However, I believed that David Moyes and Louis van Gaal would be successful, because I am a fan of the club and I have to believe in the club’s managers as a fan.
“You sometimes lose that faith over a period of time watching them, but on the other hand, from a point of view of Jose, now that he’s been supported with a new contract and he’s been supported with investment in the transfer market, the club need to now go the whole hog and make sure they support him in the future, for the next year or two, to be able to win that league.”
In fact, Neville thinks managers of all the Premier League’s top-six clubs should be given more time to settle before they are judged on trophies and results.
He added: “Jose is not going to win the league for the first two seasons it looks like, but I’d still advocate him being given that third season to go and try and win it. Jurgen Klopp hasn’t won a trophy yet at Liverpool, but I think the quality of the football and what he’s doing there means that ultimately he should be given more time to try and accomplish it, because the direction looks good.
“Pochettino at Tottenham hasn’t won a trophy yet, but the direction and the quality is there. So it’s not always as easy as saying, ‘If they don’t win a trophy do we need to change managers?’ or ‘If they have won trophies, do we stay with them forever?’
“It’s more around ‘Is the direction right? Is the quality there? Are the performances good?’ and I suppose it’s when you start to see the plateau and the tailing-off, you start to think ‘oh, here we go’.”
Asked why managers don’t seem to be given much time these days, with turnover high in the Premier League this season, Neville replied: “It’s just the nature of life now. Everything is quicker, faster, more immediate.
“They should get three years. First year, it’s not their team. They’re establishing the foundations, they’re learning (about) the club, they’re having one or two transfers windows, starting to put their imprint on the team. Year two, with two or three transfer windows behind them, you can start to say ‘look, this is now their team’, they’re had 12 months instilling their culture, their philosophy, their values into the team.
“Year three, really, in that first six months is when you really have to make it your team, your 11, because they’re your players then. There’s no excuse, you can’t point to a previous manager, previous fitness regime. The start of season three is where managers really need to prove themselves. But if you have a really poor first season or really poor first four months, you ain’t going to get that chance, not in this day and age.”
Neville, who had a short stint as manager of Valencia in 2016, is focusing his attentions away from the pitch on the five restaurants and one football club he already runs with his former Manchester United team-mates – brother Phil, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt. They are opening a sixth – redeveloping Manchester’s historic Stock Exchange building into a boutique hotel – in six months’ time and the older Neville brother is enjoying dividing his time between football commentary and his business ventures.
“I’ve invested into hospitality, leisure and property, and sport and education, so they’re the three sectors that we’ve invested in as a group, as the lads. It’s actually an exciting time, for on the hospitality and leisure side, we put a new team in place at the start of this year which will transform the business moving forward. It will mean I’ll become less active in that particular side of the company. I’m excited about 2018. We’re opening a brand new boutique hotel in six months’ time.
“Last year was crazy and I’ve actually now cleaned things up a lot. We now have leaders in each section, everyone’s becoming more focused. It’s a lot more refined and I feel now that I’m less spread than I was ever before. I feel more confident going into this year that we’re going to achieve big things throughout all the different sectors.”