Ferguson's Heir Unapparent

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Ferguson's Heir Unapparent


Ageing respect should outweigh youthful exuberance...

Modern Manchester United without its founding father would be unthinkable. But as time goes on and Sir Alex continues to drive what is possibly his best side ever, his opportunity to leave on a high remains a dark thought for many supporters, despite basking in domestic and European glory. From former players to former foes the list of possible replacement seems to drag on. Any manager experiencing a good run of form seems to be mentioned as a worthy candidate. But it is important to look at the facts. United are a ship stocked for a voyage that could easily last another five years. Even when they lose their evergreens (primarily Giggs and Scholes) there is talented youth waiting in the wings. Their departure will require a few tweaks and maybe a few pounds but in modern football this is nothing new.

The list of contenders now becomes much shorter. United require in their next boss a person who will continue steering on the current course and foster the Ferguson way. Almost by default, the experience, respect and legacy required to be both master and commander at Old Trafford means a manager at least in his fifties should only be considered. Many a United/Mourinho lover will think this implausible because for them there is only one person special enough to replace Sir Alex, the real 'special one'.

The Glazers, David Gill and most likely Bobby Charlton too should be looking to the old school for United's new manager. Lippi, Trappatoni and even Capello are all viable, yet the Italian masters may adopt an approach too technical for United's cut and thrust, counter-attacking style. The one man left, on English shores at least, is less known than any of the three just mentioned. But he, like Ferguson has two Champion's leagues to his name. He, like Ferguson has dominated a top European league. He, like Ferguson ruled supreme in an industrial city, and not a glitzy capital. And finally he, like Ferguson maintained a native presence in his starting eleven when at the helm of Bayern Munich for eight seasons. He is Ottmar Hitzfeld, also known as the general and also a friend of Sir Alex Ferguson...

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