The National - News
United step up search for interim manager with former Lyon coach Garcia in running
Rudi Garcia has been interviewed by Manchester United for the position of interim manager.
The French coach, 57, coached the Lyon team that knocked Manchester City out of the Champions League in 2020, and led Lille to their first major trophy in more than 50 years in 2011, a league-and-cup double helped by bringing in 17-year-old Eden Hazard.
Garcia has a good record of doing well at clubs which are not succeeding. Lyon were 14th when he took charge before taking them to a French Cup final and Champions League semi-final, knocking out Juventus as well as City. Pep Guardiola was criticised after the game for changing City’s tactics to play Lyon.
Roma finished between seventh and ninth before he took them to second in Serie A twice in a row behind an unstoppable Juventus team. In Rome, where he replaced Luis Enrique, he was told the big-name stars would be a problem, yet Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi became his best players.
Speaking French, English, Spanish and Italian helped him to get close to a multi-national dressing room. Marseille were 15th and he took them higher and into the Europa League final. He has never managed in England but considers it to be the home of football.
Garcia spoke to United ahead of their 2-0 victory in Villarreal, which saw the club progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Darren Fletcher and John Murtough, two football men, are charged with making a football decision.
Ernesto Valverde, the former Athletic, Espanyol and Barcelona coach, who won the league with the Catalans in 2018 and 2019, has also been interviewed for the role.
Michael Carrick took charge of the team in Villarreal and was serenaded by the travelling away supporters after the victory. United have also been strongly linked with PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino, the Argentine having impressed by leading Tottenham to a Champions League final.
Garcia’s teams play dynamic, attacking football. A three-time French manager of the year, he is a charismatic leader who knows how to get the best out of his players. Reaching top competition finals with squads nowhere near the best in Europe showed his talent.
He is good at developing young talents: Hazard, Lucas Digne and Gervinho at Lille, Alessandro Florenzi and Kostas Manolas at Roma, Camara in Marseille, Maxence Caqueret, Maxwell Cornet and Houssem Aouar at Lyon. His three central midfielders against City were aged 20, 21 and 22. Lyon’s inexperience told in the semi-final against Bayern Munich when they missed two one-on-one chances before going out to the eventual winners.
Laurent Blanc, another linked to the United role, was the favourite for the Lyon job when Garcia was interviewed for the position. But Garcia showed detailed knowledge of the squad and his plans for them which including promoting youth.
When Garcia got the job, aware of the negativity around his appointment, he told the media: “I want to start with a quote from Winston Churchill : ‘A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist, which is us, sees opportunity in every difficulty.’”
Manchester United might need the same approach now.