“There is a need to sweep away the dirt in the Portuguese football Federation,” Carlos Queiroz said, when leaving his post as the Portugal U-20 team, which contained the likes of Luís Figo, Rui Costa, Fernando Couto, João Vieira Pinto and Jorge Costa. His parting was an acrimonious one, seemingly shutting the door on his career with Portugal.
However, reports are coming in thick and fast that Queiroz is about to accept the manager’s job for the national side.
“From my part, there is not much to say, it needs to be resolved between the federation and United,” Carlos Queiroz said this weekend. “I can say little more than you know at this time. It’s out of my hands.”
This is a statement that worries me far more than anything Ronaldo could say about his “dreams” or preference for playing in white.
Back in May, I championed Queiroz’s cause for becoming our next manager, when Sir Alex Ferguson chooses to retire. In summary, I believed he was the man for the job because:
1. His impressive track record for unearthing young talent, with Portugal as much as at United.
2. The likelihood that Ronaldo, Nani and Anderson would be keener to stay with Queiroz in charge.
3. The prominent role he has taken in our training and pre-match set up for the past few years, outshining Fergie in this respect to a certain extent.
4. The tactics that were unpopular at first, which in the end won us a European Cup. The away displays against Roma and Barcelona last season were certainly not of Fergie’s making.
5. To aid the transition after Fergie’s departure. When a man has been in charge of a club for 25 years+, bringing season after season of glory and success, the process of replacing him has to be a delicate one. Queiroz is well aware of the Manchester United way under Fergie, and could continue that through for the long term, or until we found a better/more suitable permanent replacement.
When the harassment of Ronaldo first began this summer and all United would do was give out press releases saying he wasn’t for sale, Queiroz got stuck in, deciding two could play that game.
Whilst Real Madrid played the emotional game, insisting that the only problem in this situation was between Ronaldo and United, claiming they were honoured Ronaldo was interested in signing for them, and that they’d pay whatever it took to get him, Queiroz waded in making it about Spain vs Portugal.
Queiroz has the intelligence and know-how to deal with high pressure situations. Without directly telling Ronaldo he had to be loyal to his homeland, something the player would always do without question, he made the suggestion that by leaving United and signing for Real Madrid, he was betraying Portugal. Genius.
Queiroz has spent five years with our club now, in which we have won three league titles, the Champions league and the League Cup. Fergie has earmarked him out as his favourite to take over the managerial position, entrusting him with more responsibility than would usually be afforded to an assistant. If he leaves, we have to start from scratch.
United are likely to ‘keep it in the family’, with Brian McClair and Eric Cantona both being linked with the no.2 job. Whilst of course the idea of having Cantona back at the club is mouth-watering, how practical and successful it would likely to be is questionable.
Players come and go, but replacements for one of the greatest ever managers are not ten a penny. Queiroz was supposed to be the one, and I can’t help but dread his imminent departure will hit us far harder than Ronaldo’s.