Equal Time: Leonardo Jardim is not right for Manchester United
After four years at AS Monaco’s helm, Leonardo Jardim was formally relieved of his managerial duties last week. For all the hipsters, gamers and revolutionaries in football and social media circles, his availability represented the perfect opportunity for the next hype: Jardim as Manchester United manager.
Quite a few arguments favour him when making this claim. The 44-year-old’s known to promote youth, build squads within a limited budget and play attractive, attacking football. Those traits certainly resonate with the United DNA.
Even so, achieving success at other clubs is a different animal than it is at Old Trafford. Don’t believe me; ask Louis Van Gaal, David Moyes and Jose Mourinho. Inquire with Niko Kovac and Julen Lopetegui, too. Clubs like United, Bayern and Real Madrid are truly big-game hunting
Multiple reasons exist for the disparity.
Monaco and United work through different methods. Monaco is a selling club. They buy low, sell high. First team talent is a core revenue source for the principality club. In the last three seasons, they generated £350 million by auctioning their best players. Yet, they consistently finished in Ligue 1’s top three.
Owner Dmitry Rybolovlev leverages his scouting network and knows how to hustle and close a deal. If you consider the quality that has come and gone in the past four seasons, Anthony Martial, James Rodriguez, Bernardo Silva, Adama Traore, Dijbril Sidibe and Fabinho among many others, it’s astonishing how well the Russian understands the football side of the business.
Because Monaco’s reputation as a player farm is quite prevalent, they’re able to negotiate bargain prices on players coming in and top dollar on the finished product.
United casts a wide recruiting net and sells off young talent, too. The difference is they do not develop their youngsters to the same level as Monaco. Consequently, their market is limited mostly to other English clubs and their profits are marginal. Because they are a buying club, the richest by some measures, United is made to pay premium prices for its recruits. Jose Mourinho isn’t the first United manager to complain about the problem. Sir Alex Ferguson reiterated the issue on numerous occasions.
That dynamic alters the game completely for Jardim. Marrying young and world-class talent isn’t as straightforward as it appears. Ligue 1 isn’t the same as the Premier League. Youth opportunity is greater there. A manager can be patient with raw talent when he doesn't have the expectations of nearly a billion fans weighing on him.
Jardim's never managed a dressing room brimming with stars and egos. He's helped create those egos but never managed players who were already established names. At United, he must be the leader and sole mediator between God and the players. To exert control and authority, he must be the biggest ego in the room. Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Zinedine Zidane, even Mauricio Pochettino, each in their own fashion is that ego. Is Jardim?
In the age of player power, it’s imperative the Venezuelan demonstrates the same authority. Had Sir Alex Ferguson not been so commanding, he'd have lost the dressing room. He sold the likes of Dennis Irwin, Andrei Kanchelskis, Jaap Stam, David Beckham, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy to ensure he maintained control of the squad. Whether Jardim can be as decisive, especially under the Glazers, is doubtful.
Due to Monaco’s reputation and business model, Jardim needn't play mind games. When they lost to Manchester City in their thrilling 2016/17 Champions League first leg, a reporter asked him to identify the match's turning point. He dismissed the question, saying the fans should be happy with the spectacle the tie produced. Imagine saying that as a United manager.
While psychological aspects cannot be weighed in numbers and percentages, they matter very much. Leonardo Jardim must prove himself at a top-level club before coming to a place like Old Trafford.