Shaun Goater
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Shaun Goater picks two names to replace Pep and urges Haaland to make Man City switch

| 05.04.2022

Shaun Goater got his first taste of English football at Manchester United but eventually became a Manchester City legend.

In an exclusive interview with Ladbrokes ahead of the launch of the 5-A-Side bet on Man City v Liverpool, the former striker gives us his thoughts on the progress of both Manchester clubs.

There are only two contenders, for me, who can replace Pep… and Vieira just edges it over Arteta

Of course there will come a day when Pep Guardiola moves on, but how do you replace a man like that? You just don’t.

I think that Manchester City owners will be taking a serious look at what’s taken place over the other side of the city, and if you don’t get that call right, you start to lose all that greatness you’ve built up. So even now, while things are going smoothly for the club on the pitch, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pep himself is having a huge say in who comes in to replace him.

It has to be a great appointment, whenever it takes place. Who comes to mind? Two people that know the club inside out and understand the culture: Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta. With Mikel having gone to Arsenal, while I’m sure his relationship with the club is still good, I would only suspect that the fact he left the club to take the Arsenal job, would probably put him further down the pecking order. Those are the two names that come to mind for me – they know the club inside out and understand the DNA of Manchester City.

My old team-mate, Alf-Inge Haaland, doesn’t need telling… he knows what he’s got to do this summer!

My mate, Alf-Inge Haaland, doesn’t need telling anything; he knows what he has to do this summer, and that’s get his son over here. I would’ve thought that if Erling Haaland had the choice of any club in the world, he would come to Manchester City. If there was nothing to split teams financially, I think he’d choose City, not only because of the link with his dad, but more so the potential to work under Pep Guardiola. That opportunity should be number one on any striker’s list; if you’re a centre-forward, you’d want to play for Pep. You’ve seen his record, and what he’s done at other clubs, how his teams play.

Alf-Inge Haaland

So Pep in himself is obviously a big tick, but then on top of that you’ve got his father’s links to the club, which is another tick. If you’re putting all numbers aside and you gave Haaland the choice, he’d look to come to Man City. I don’t need to drop his dad a message; he already knows what to do: get your son to the Etihad!

I was earning more for packing groceries in Bermuda than I was under Fergie at Man United… I had to ask him for a pay rise!

Manchester United came to Bermuda on a mid-season break, and that’s where I was scouted. Sir Alex Ferguson saw me and offered me a trial. I came over, had a successful trial and joined up with the club.

It’s funny because in those days, I didn’t have an agent so I was pretty much left to sort my own contracts out, and when I was offered a place at United, I was on something like £175 a week. Now, in Bermuda, you could pack groceries for people that come into shops, and for that, you’d get tips. I would make more money packing groceries in Bermuda, than I would playing for Manchester United. So I went to see him, and told him that my mother and I had just moved over and were living in a new house, and with the £175 a week, I couldn’t afford the mortgage, so I needed a little bit more – and he ended up giving me a £50 increase!

At the time when I joined United, they were calling for Ferguson’s head. But he was always truthful, he was honest, he would tell you straight how things were. For me, as an 18-year-old, having to front up to the gaffer, it was a tough thing. But in my mind I was thinking ‘£175? I should be getting more than this!’ It worked out in the end for me though because I got my increase!

Sir Alex Ferguson quotes, football

And ever since that day I’ve always had a good relationship with Fergie. I have the utmost respect for him. To manage at what was then the biggest club in the world and to deliver trophies consistently, turning United into an absolute machine… it’s admirable. Look at the job he did, and the position they’re in now; I can’t help but smile as a City fan, because all their fans can talk about these days is how good they were.

This man was churning out trophies like you wouldn’t believe. I remember we played them one year, and his son had a wedding in Australia – during the time of the Manchester derby. I remember thinking ‘how dare he go to his son’s wedding when he’s supposed to be playing us’.

It was so disrespectful, but they were so dominant at the time, he knew they were in safe hands. His assistant took over, and I wanted to score against them so badly. I didn’t get on in that game, but I really wanted to get a goal. He just created this machine at United, and it’s why even now, nine years after his retirement, we’re still talking about him, and you’ll read pieces on him every day.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival has taken the shine away from United’s youngsters; it’s great news for City

I’ve got to be honest, I never thought Cristiano Ronaldo’s return was going to be a great thing for Manchester United. I knew he’d score goals, but I also knew that he’d take away from the shine of the future, and the youngsters they have. He was always going to score goals, but I didn’t think the rest of the team would score goals as a direct result of him signing; someone was going to suffer. That balance had to work, and I don’t think it has.

If Ronaldo was told ‘look, use your experience, you’re obviously a key player and you’re going to have plenty of game-time, but a key part of this project is these young players coming through’, then it might have been a different story. But, as we can see, Marcus Rashford has gone off the boil, and I think it’s because he’s lost a lot of belief; he’s just sort of been left to figure it out.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United

Edinson Cavani is another one that’s also suffered, because who starts? Well, it’s Ronaldo; it’s always going to be Ronaldo. So when I saw that news break that he’d signed for them, as a Man City fan, I thought it was good for us. I don’t think City were ever really going to sign Ronaldo. Pep’s teams play the way they play because it’s about the team, not about the individual – and so I truly don’t think it would have ever worked.

It could be a really smart chess move from City, who have already thought a few steps ahead, maybe with one eye on the next summer transfer window, and by forcing United’s hand into signing Ronaldo, it’s likely to be one less team who are going to go after a striker this summer.

Look, I’ve been around the club long enough to know that they hardly ever get these decisions wrong. Whether that’s on the pitch or off it, they have experts across all areas, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if City are making chess moves here that no one else has even thought of.

It doesn’t matter who replaces Rangnick; it’ll be the same model… come in, spend some time there, fail, get replaced

Manchester United need a new model from the ground up, quite simply. The academy has to be a part of what they’re developing for the first team. I think they’ll always have the approach of ‘we can just buy the best player, the most expensive player, put him in and that player will deliver the goods’.

That was OK back 10 years ago when they were winning things, because Sir Alex Ferguson had his model, and it was a tried and tested success. But today, there are question marks around their style of play. How are their academy products playing, and how similar is that to the first team? And then you’ve got to look at the players as a whole… do they 100% believe in what’s happening at the club?

Above anything else, developing a new model needs to be looked at first. Forget who the next manager might be, because the next manager is going to come in, spend some time there, fail, and then get replaced by someone else. I think they need to look a lot deeper. It’s nothing to do with the manager; they’ve had so many different styles and approaches since Sir Alex left the club.

Next Man Utd manager odds, Ralf Rangnick

There’s been no continuity among those names who have come in. They’ve just cherry-picked names out there; Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, “he’ll do, he’ll do”. And that’s why I say there are deeper, underlying issues going on there that they need to figure out.

We often hear pundits talk about United and question their style of play, because no one really knows what it’s supposed to be right now. For years it was a very ‘throw the kitchen sink’ approach; you score three, we’ll score four. But they had the players to do that, and everyone bought into that model. But if you go and throw the kitchen sink at teams today, you’ll get picked open, because teams are much cleverer now. There’s a long-term project there, and it needs addressing.

With Cristiano Ronaldo playing every minute of every game, it impacts the whole team, because they can’t press. And if you can’t press, you have to have a tactical shrewdness about you, and that comes down to the manager. Do they have a tactical manager, like a Pep Guardiola or a Jurgen Klopp, who can adapt and still play a game without a high press? I put that forward as a genuine question, by the way, because I don’t know Ralf Rangnick all too well.

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Andrew McDermott