Manchester United: 10 Potential Successors to Sir Alex Ferguson

Peter CarrollContributor IIINovember 4, 2011

Manchester United: 10 Potential Successors to Sir Alex Ferguson

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    Mr. Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, seems irreplaceable as manager at Old Trafford. 

    For many of you who are reading this article, you will not have have been alive when another manager had control of the club. 

    Ten pieces of silverware at Aberdeen, an unbelievable feat considering the dominance of the two clubs from Glasgow in Scotland, put the spotlight on the Scot to sign for the Red Devils. Ferguson began his work for Manchester United on November 6, 1986, 25 years ago this weekend. 

    12 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, 10 Community Shields, 2 UEFA Champions League titles, an UEFA Cup Winner's Cup, an UEFA Supercup, an Intercontinental and World Club Cup later, United fans are really starting to sweat over the selection of a worthy successor to the greatest manager of all time. 

    Such is the respect for Ferguson at United that the club has written into his contract that the legendary coach will be the one who selects the next leader for the red side of Manchester. 

    This makes it easier to deal with for United fans, and with Ferguson to turn 70 next month, talks continue to build. 

    There are maybe three names in the hat for Ferguson, but with him yet to reveal them, our minds our bound to wander. Here are ten men who may have a chance, a very long one in some cases. 

Darren Ferguson

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    This is a massive long shot, but with Ferguson being the man to pick his successor, he may push Darren forward. Darren has had success with Peterborough, gaining them promotion on two occasions. 

    If the son of the great manager were to get the post, which seems highly unlikely at the moment, Ferguson would probably take on a consultancy role and show his son the ropes of managing the club.

    With no time frame on Sir Alex's retirement, this may become more of a possibility if Darren pushes Peterborough further up the championship table, where they are currently in 14th position.   

Eric Cantona

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    "We drink a drink a drink. To Eric the king the king the king. He's the leader of our football team." 

    These words are still sang by the Old Trafford faithful led by chief supporter, and legend in his own right, Pete Boyle. 

    Cantona led the team on the pitch like no other, not necessarily through fear like Roy Keane or through sheer experience like Bryan Robson, but every move the Frenchman made seemed to ooze confidence.

    If these characteristics transcend into management, we could be looking at a great choice. However, his lack of managerial experience will hold him back.

    "The King" is now Director of Football for the New York Cosmos but has previously declared that the only managerial position he would be interested in is that of Sir Alex's. 

Roy Keane

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    Ferguson's respect for Keane has been well documented and despite the Irishman's bad form with Ipswich and his walk out on Sunderland, he may have his name in the hat. 

    "He is my best player. It's not just the quality of his game, it is also his influence and great determination. There are a lot of parts to making a great player—he has fulfilled them all," said Sir Alex of Keane in 2004. "When you are talking about Manchester United 30 or 500 years from now, Roy Keane will be regarded as one of the greatest players ever at this club."

    A fierce captain, standing up to anyone who messed with his teammates, Keane is also a shrewd disciplinarian, which was evident from his management of Sunderland. 

    He may fit the mold in that regard to take over for the Scot, and the respect he has at Old Trafford would make the selection a real winner with the United fan base. 

Carlos Queiroz

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    Before Queiroz took his position with Portugal, he was to be the man to take Ferguson's throne and nobody seemed to have a problem with it. 

    In two spells with Manchester United as assistant manager, Queiroz showcased his great eye for talent, bringing in Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Anderson. In his time at Real, he also wanted to snap up Pepe for £2 million and after the board rejected the idea, four years later they would buy the player for £30 million. 

    Now at Iran, Queiroz seems to have been forgotten about in regard to the managerial post at Old Trafford, but a lot of fans still believe he has earned the right to be in the mix. 

    Since managing international football in Iran is a far cry from the EPL, Queiroz may need to delve into the European game again before getting the nod. 

Ryan Giggs

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    No player has been a greater representation of Manchester United football than Ryan Giggs. Regardless of what has been printed about the left winger, his knowledge of the game is infinite and after completing his coaching badges, there is nothing to stop the Welsh Wizard. 

    Giggs has shown skill, maturity, loyalty, versatility, and influence over the years, and the thought of him taking over with Scholes in an assistant role has been chatted about to no end in the Bishop's Blaize and the Trafford Inn. 

    Ferguson has devoted so much time and energy to Giggs that it wouldn't come as a surprise to many if he was put in the hot seat. 

    However, with Giggs under much scrutiny in the media, a debut managerial position with United would be the ultimate baptism of fire for the legend. 

David Moyes

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    How many years have we heard mangers blame their relegation on the amount other teams have at their liberty to spend on world class players? The answer is countless.

    But David Moyes has kept Everton competitive throughout the nine years he has spent there, and continues to bring young talent through, talent which is eventually sold to bigger clubs. 

    Moyes is another Glaswegian that isn't unlike Ferguson in his managerial style. His teams are physical in defense and creative when going forward, the type of football United fans appreciate.

    According to former United stopper and current Everton keeper, Tim Howard, the Everton coach is every bit as good as Ferguson when delivering the hairdryer treatment.

    The two managers also have very good relations having dealt with transfer deals for players like Tim Howard, Phil Neville, Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney. 

Mike Phelan

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    Mike Phelan, current assistant to Ferguson, is a name that's definitely in the mix as far as the next Manchester United manger is concerned. 

    A former player under Ferguson, Phelan is experienced when it comes to the media too. Phelan took the place of the United boss for post match interviews after the Scot had a disagreement with the BBC regarding a Panorama feature which criticized Jason Ferguson, who is Sir Alex's son. 

    Phelan also rejected a managerial job at Burnley to stay under Ferguson at Old Trafford. This has led many to believe that there have been whispers about him slotting into the position.

    Who better to take up right where Sir Alex leaves off than the man who has helped build his latest team of young talent?   

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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    "The Baby Faced Assassin" was one of Ferguson's greatest ever signings and his important goals for United made him an instant fan favorite. 

    On his retirement in 2006, Solskjaer took on the head coach role for Manchester United Reserves and helped to mold the blossoming talents of Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Federico Macheda.

    Currently managing his former club Molde, many newspapers have claimed that Solskjaer is simply honing his skills to take over for Sir Alex whenever he chooses to retire. 

    With Solskjaer's knowledge of the club's workings and his good relationships with some of the breakthrough talents at United, he may be the perfect man to take on the position. 

Laurent Blanc

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    Laurent Blanc has won it all as a player, including a Premier League with United in 2003, albeit in a disappointing season for the French man. 

    During his time at United, Blanc was already looking toward his coaching badges and Ferguson primarily bought him for his experience after the departure of Jaap Stam.

    As a manager for Bordeaux, the World Cup winner showed his quality, setting his team apart by winning the league and two cups in his two seasons with the side. This won Blanc a call up to manage the French national team after they suffered under the reign of Raymond Domenech. 

    The French leader has been constantly linked with Sir Alex's job upon his retirement and one look at his achievements in his young managerial career will convince non-believers otherwise. 

Jose Mourinho

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    Mourinho was a managerial sparring partner to Ferguson during his time at Chelsea, with Mourinho getting the better of the Scot on many occasions. 

    There is no doubt that the self-proclaimed "Special One" has gained most of the headlines when it comes to who will take over for Ferguson, but sometimes I think people forget how frustrating it was to play against Mourinho's defensive Chelsea line up, and the criticism, perhaps jealous, that United gave the Londoners for it. 

    It has also been claimed that Mourinho has a release clause at the end of any four years he spends at Real to take over for the United legend. But based on Real's current form, he may want to stay to rack up some trophies before making his decision. 

    The Portuguese manger is very much a natural successor to Ferguson. A master of mind games like the Scot, his drive for success is proven through his record thus far, having won 18 titles across four different leagues, including two UEFA Champions Leagues, since his start as a top tier manager in 2000.