The job of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, when it is finally made available, will be a juxtaposition. On one hand, the incoming manager will assume control of one of the world’s finest squads at a club with the largest fanbase in the world. Yet he will also be charged with a task of replacing the irreplaceable. The new boss will have to replicate a dynasty the like of which football has never seen before to even be mentioned in the same breath as Ferguson.
In reality, it is an impossible task. The role, therefore, will shift to maintenance and undergoing a smooth transition into the new era. The room for progression is negligible.
The hierarchy at Manchester United, accustomed to such durability and stability during Ferguson’s tenure, will undoubtedly go for a reasonably young manager to avoid unnecessary upheaval. Yet this youth will have to be complemented by both the experience and temperament to deal with expectations so accustomed to success.
The obvious candidate is Jose Mourinho.
The most decorated young manager in the game with a brace of Champions League titles and plethora continental league titles to his name, "The Special One" has the temperament. With an ego that seemingly holds no fixed limitations, he also possess the mental fortitude of such an expectant position.
Yet it is unlikely that he will be the successor to Sir Alex. With a wandering eye that hawks his own name around with unerring frequency, Mourinho will, quite simply, not be in the position to take the United job.
He will leave Real Madrid this summer; he has said as much. Were he to stay for a few more years to coincide with Sir Alex’s departure, the United board would forgive his foibles, such is the stand out quality of his resume.
A comment he made this week, upon his Real Madrid side’s exit from the Champions League, however, looks to veto Mourinho for the United job immediately:
I know in England I am loved...I'm loved by the fans. I'm loved by the media that treats me in a fair way, criticizing me when they have (to), but giving me credit when I deserve it. I know I'm loved by some clubs, especially one. And in Spain the situation is a bit different because some people hate me. And many of you are in this room.
It is as obvious as the loosely fitting cryptic facade could possibly be; Mourinho is heading back to Chelsea.
At the Blues, the club where he made his name, Mourinho is lauded as the messiah, setting the unrealistic precedent that have been the bane of his successors ever since. A return to his prodigal home would undoubtedly be Mourinho’s final role in England. His name would become too associated with Chelsea; his loyalty for the club would grow exponentially. He would not be in the position to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, nor likely want too.
Another name that has been consistently linked is that of Everton boss David Moyes.
Consistently steering his unfashionable charges into the top eight, on a relatively modest budget, Moyes has performed wonders. He deserves a shot at a higher level and the parallels with Sir Alex, as well as the United boss’ well-known affinity for his fellow Scot, are widely known.
Yet Moyes is raw and completely untested at such a high level. His budgets would transform; the expectations would escalate; the pressure would mount. He could thrive, indeed I think he would, but a club like Manchester United cannot compromise their progression on chance.
There is one name, however, that stands out as a beacon of hope amidst the impending storm. A man whose own comments mirror Sir Alex’s apparent plan to retire by the 2015/16 season. A man with both the temperament, youth and experience of continental pressure.
Jurgen Klopp, the genius behind the astronomical progression of Borussia Dortmund, would be an excellent suitor for the United job.
At only 45 years old, Klopp is identical in age to Sir Alex when he assumed control of United.
A tactical genius Klopp has transformed Dortmund, with fairly frugal resources into deserving Champions League finalists. The team cohesion he has developed at Dortmund, which has been key to their success, is testament to the German's man-management ability. In addition his transfer outlays, such as the capture of the exciting Marco Reus, show an astute knowledge of ability and value.
If Jurgen Klopp is victorious in the Champions League final, against arch-rivals Bayern Munich on May 25, he will validate the astronomic hype that currently surrounds him. Yet the fate of Dortmund has already been sealed, having recently lost their prime asset Mario Goetze to Munich in a huge deal, and with vultures hovering for the brilliant Robert Lewandowski, the success could well be a catalyst to decline.
Dortmund’s status does not yet befit their success. They have outperformed their place in the football hierarchy and are, therefore, not able to hang onto their prime assets. Klopp will have funds to buy replacements, but an ability deficit is inevitable, replacing players of such quality will prove impossible.
Klopp will continue at Dortmund and may well taste further success. He may honor his contract and repay the loyalty that BVB have shown him, but there will come a time when he takes this team as far as he can.
There will come a time when his contract is winding down that an announcement from England sends shock waves around the globe. The phone will ring; Manchester is calling.
So Jurgen...can you resist?