Manchester Utd: The Top 5 Candidates for Sir Alex Ferguson's Job
Alex Ferguson accepted the Manchester United manager's job on 6th November 1986, taking charge of a side languishing in 21st place of the old First Division.
Twenty-six years later, the 70-year-old Scot is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all-time, having brought 12 league titles, two European Cups and a plethora of other silverware to the club he still proudly presides over.
The week, however, it has been confirmed that Fergie has discussed his successor with the club and that he expects to retire in "another two to three years."
Plenty of names have been thrown into the hat for the top job at the Theatre of Dreams, but here are the top five current contenders...
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The Spaniard may only have four years worth of experience with a single team, but the 14 trophies he accrued at Barcelona make him the Catalan side's most successful coach ever.
Earlier this summer, the Spanish press reported that Ferguson met with Guardiola in New York, where the former defensive midfielder is currently enjoying a sabbatical from management. Press reports this week also state that club chief executive David Gill and a member of the Glazer family have met with the Spaniard, who Sir Alex once tried to sign as a player.
The Catalan is said to be enticed by the history and atmosphere of Old Trafford, and there are few more seductive jobs to coax him out of his American sojourn.
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Since leaving Chelsea without bringing the London side a Champions League trophy, The Special One has long mooted a return to the Premier League to win the highest prize in European club football with an English side.
The Portuguese tactician's contract with Real Madrid expires in 2016, which could coincide perfectly with Ferguson's exit, but he recently expressed a desire to face his old foe once once again with an English club. He told CNN:
For me, he's the boss. I call him the boss because he's the boss of the coaches and I hope that when I go back to English football he still manages Man United.
If Mou fulfils his contract with Los Blancos, however, he will probably miss the opportunity to face Ferguson again domestically. In that case, his "boss" comments will be regarded as a sign of respect, and flattery gets you everywhere in the job market...
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Despite the exotic continental names being bandied around to succeed Sir Alex, the current favorite at the bookies is Everton boss David Moyes.
His continued success with the Toffees over a 10-year period (including four top-six finishes, Champions League qualification and an FA Cup final appearance) with very little budget has garnered admiration from many of his Premier League counterparts, earning him three LMA Manager of the Year awards.
Former Manchester Utd manager Tommy Docherty believes Ferguson will be allowed to pick his own successor, and his most likely choice will be his friend Moyes, a man Fergie reportedly endorsed for the role in April 2010.
Ferguson is said to perceive Moyes as a man who understands how a club like Manchester Utd should be run, and who would keep the Scot in the loop when he eventually takes a position upstairs at the club.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
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The thoroughly likeable Norwegian will forever be close to the hearts of the Manchester Utd faithful for his role as a "super sub," often helping to win games with late substitute appearances. Nowhere was this talent more useful than the famous 1999 Champions League Final.
The Baby-Faced Assassin coached the Manchester Utd reserves up until 2010, when he accepted the manager's job at Norwegian side Molde. In his first season, he led the club to their first ever league title and has enjoyed plenty of success in the Tippeligaen since.
Solksjaer was recently linked with the Blackburn job, but played down the speculation. Is he saving himself for a big offer from his former employer in Manchester?
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Since making his league debut in 1991, Ryan Giggs has been a consistent member of Sir Alex's squad and, despite a recent off-the-field scandal, is viewed as an exemplary professional.
With over 900 appearances under his belt for the Red Devils, few people could match the Welshman's understanding of what it means to bring Manchester Utd success. As the 38-year-old approaches retirement from the field, he has starting earning his coaching badges with former teammate Gary Neville and will work towards his Pro-Licence next year.
With zero management experience, Giggs would be considered a risky choice, but if Man Utd seek someone who has truly learnt from the master, there's no better candidate.