This day has been coming for 11 years—ever since Sir Alex Ferguson announced he would be retiring at the end of the 2001-02 season. He backtracked then, and went on to win another six Premier League titles before announcing his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season.
His 38 trophies with the Red Devils stand as a testament to his success and are unlikely to be surpassed for decades. As his 27-year reign comes to an end, thoughts have turned to who will replace the man who created a whole time period—"Fergie Time."
With Manchester United PLC a New York Stock Exchange company, the new manager will need to be announced quickly to avoid any long-term drop in the stock price.
Many people—from Ryan Giggs to Howard Webb—are being linked with the post, so here are the best odds on five of the candidates. Odds are correct at the time of writing, taken from oddschecker.com
Following some uncertainty this morning, Everton manager David Moyes has emerged as the clear favourite to succeed Sir Alex at Old Trafford. He has been in charge of Everton for 11 years, leading the club from relegation candidates into annual European contenders.
Moyes has achieved a lot on Merseyside, especially considering the lack of transfer funds available to him. There is a mutual respect between himself and Ferguson, and because of that the best price available is 1-10 on.
All of the speculation surrounding Mourinho's future has centred on a spectacular return to Chelsea FC. However, the timing of Fergie's announcement has cast a shadow of doubt over that. The pair have developed a special relationship—built on the solid foundation of red wine—and there had been rumours around Mourinho going to Old Trafford long before Fergie's departure was confirmed.
The odds on him returning to Chelsea are still a healthy 5-19, but the 10-1 price on him diverting to Manchester United instead adds credence to the rumours.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer was better known as the "baby-faced assassin" during his playing career. He scored the last-gasp winner in Manchester United's dramatic 1999 Champions League Final triumph and enjoyed a very close relationship with Sir Alex. Since his retirement as a player in 2007 he has stepped up into management, returning to Molde in Norway and winning back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012.
He said earlier this year that he would love to manage Manchester United in the future, but the best odds available for him to succeed his mentor stand at 70-1. Despite this, he could represent good value for money as an outside bet.
The Interim One is out of contract at the end of the season and is currently seeking employment to avoid another enforced sabbatical. He has made no secret of his desire to return to the North-West of England, and with Manchester just a short hop across the Pennines from his beloved Liverpool, it would be surprising if Benitez didn't at least send his CV in.
Odds of 100-1 seem a bit short, so perhaps the bookmakers know something that we don't.
Like father, like son, Ferguson junior is currently manager of recently relegated Peterborough United. At 41 years of age, he lacks the experience that other candidates offer but the family connection could help him to forge on from his father's legacy.
However, at 949-1 you're better off investing in that chocolate teapot business you've heard so much about.