Ranking Sir Alex Ferguson's Players by Managerial Ability

Tim Collins@@TimDCollinsFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2014

Ranking Sir Alex Ferguson's Players by Managerial Ability

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    Ryan Giggs' appointment as Manchester United's interim manager following the sacking of David Moyes marks the beginning of yet another managerial career from Sir Alex Ferguson's immense stable of players.

    Indeed, it was inevitable that a man who managed four clubs across 39 years from 1974 to 2013 and is recognised as one of the greatest managers in the history of football would see countless proteges enter the same game following their retirements from playing at the highest level.

    But which former Ferguson players have performed to the highest standard at the helm of their respective clubs?

    Here, across the following slides, we look at the top 10 identities to move into management after playing under the great Scot.

10. Mark Robins

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Rotherham United, Barnsley, Coventry City, Huddersfield Town

    Winning Percentage: 40.06

    Starting his coaching career as an assistant at Rotherham United, Mark Robins quickly rose to become the club's manager by March 2007.

    Despite taking over as the club was relegation-bound, Robins impressed by maintaining Rotherham near the promotion places across the next two seasons in League Two, even with the club having a 17-point deduction enforced by the Football League in 2008-09.

    Following an unsuccessful stint at Barnsley, the former Manchester United, Norwich City and Leicester City player led Coventry City from the relegation battle toward the mid-table places in 2012-13, which resulted in Championship-based Huddersfield Town acquiring Robins ahead of the current season.

    The 44-year-old currently has his team sitting nine points above the relegation zone in England's second tier.

9. Darren Ferguson

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Peterborough United, Preston North End

    Winning Percentage: 42.25

    The son of Sir Alex Ferguson, Darren Ferguson, spent four years under his father at Manchester United between 1990 and 1994.

    Since moving into management, the 42-year-old has made his name at Peterborough United across two stints at the Posh.

    After guiding the club to 10th place in League Two following his appointment in the wake of Keith Alexander's sacking in 2007, Ferguson steered United to second place in the league in his first full season in charge to earn automatic promotion, helping his team to play with a style reminiscent of his father's orchestration at Manchester United.

    The year after, the Peterborough manager oversaw his club's second straight promotion, finishing runners-up in League One to cruise into the Championship.

    Since a disappointing short spell at Preston North End, Ferguson has returned to Peterborough United, with the club sitting among the play-off places in League One at present.

8. Roy Keane

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Sunderland, Ipswich Town

    Winning Percentage: 39.78

    Once identified by Ferguson as his possible successor at Manchester United, Roy Keane first embarked on his managerial career at Sunderland in 2006.

    Immediately, the former Manchester United star was a success in the North East, as he led the club from the bottom of the Championship and into the Premier League in his first season in charge, winning the Manager of the Year award.

    However, from that point onward, Keane struggled at Sunderland, just avoiding relegation in the top flight in 2007-08, before a disastrous opening to the 2008-09 campaign ended his tenure at the club.

    Despite his initial success, Keane's abrasive manner and hard-line approach wore thin with the club's players, who, according to The Telegraph, celebrated the Irishman's departure.

    The following year, Keane took the helm at Ipswich Town and never found the instant success he enjoyed briefly at Sunderland, failing to propel the team anywhere near the promotion places and was sacked in 2011.

    While he was an active manager in transfer windows and a highly respected figure for his achievements on the pitch, Keane's apparent inability to foster relationships with his players was undoubtedly the undoing of his management career.

7. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Manchester United U21, Molde, Cardiff City

    Winning Percentage: 52.98

    After coaching the Manchester United under-21 side, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to Molde in Norway where he had made his name prior to moving to Manchester United in 1997.

    Immediately, the Norwegian was a success, leading his old club to the Tippeligaen title in both of his first two seasons in charge before claiming the Norwegian Cup in 2013, securing the team a place in the 2014-15 Europa League qualifiers.

    Solskjaer now finds himself in charge of Cardiff City, who despite his appointment in January, will definitely be relegated from the Premier League at the end of this season.

    However, it would be unfair to harshly criticise the 41-year-old for failing to keeper his side up in the top flight, given the unrest at Cardiff under the controversial ownership of Vincent Tan.

    It must be acknowledged, though, that some of his substitutions have raised questions at times, while the team's January signings haven't added a lot.

    But the Norwegian should be given another season in charge before his short spell with Cardiff is looked upon unfavourably.

6. Bryan Robson

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Middlesbrough, Bradford City, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United, Thailand

    Winning Percentage: 27.54

    Bryan Robson enjoyed a blistering start to his managerial career, steering Middlesbrough to the Division One (now Championship) title and into the Premier League in his first season in charge.

    Once up in the top flight, his club bolted to a fantastic start before levelling out to finish the 1995-96 season in 12th place, before going on to reach the final of both domestic cups the following season.

    Bucking the normal trend, the club stuck by Robson when the team were relegated in 1996-97, and the faith was repaying when he led The Boro back to the Premier League with automatic promotion in 1997-98.

    Yet from 2001 onward, Robson endured a difficult managerial life, departing Middlesbrough to undertake unsuccessful stints at Bradford City, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United and most recently, Thailand.

    Despite commanding respect for being one of his country's finest ever footballing products, Robson was criticised for his training methods and scheduling, which is perhaps reflected in his inability to drive consistent and lasting success at any of his managerial stops.

5. Alex McLeish

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Aberdeen

    Team(s) Managed: Motherwell, Hibernian, Rangers, Scotland, Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest

    Winning Percentage: 36.27

    Alex McLeish's stock has taken a battering in recent years, after an extremely poor stint with Aston Villa and an absurdly short seven-game spell at Nottingham Forest.

    However, prior to those brief tenures, the Scot had enjoyed a wealth of managerial success.

    After impressing larger clubs by hauling Hibernian from Scotland's second tier and into third place in the Scottish Premier League in 2000-01, the former Aberdeen player was appointed as Rangers manager in December 2001.

    McLeish embarked on an immediate period of success, claiming the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup in his first season at Ibrox, which was followed by the domestic treble a season later. He helped Rangers claim the league and league cup double in 2004-05, and he led the club to the last 16 of the Champions League in 2005-06.

    Another fruitful period began at Birmingham City, which included the capture of the 2010-11 League Cup, after defeating Arsenal in the final.

    Unfortunately, McLeish's achievements have been glossed over somewhat due to the unattractive and dour nature of his Aston Villa team in 2011-12.

4. Steve Bruce

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic, Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Sunderland, Hull City

    Winning Percentage: 36.71

    Steve Bruce has been a true journeyman of the managerial game in England, having been in charge of seven clubs without ever enjoying the opportunity to be at the helm of one of the country's biggest teams.

    After a tumultuous beginning to his managerial career that saw him appointed and then depart from four clubs in little more than two years, Bruce struck success with Birmingham City in 2001, leading to team to promotion into the Premier League through the play-offs in his first season.

    After establishing the club in the Premier League over the next season, the now 53-year-old was viewed as one of the most exciting managers in England.

    But Bruce's fortunes changed when he couldn't hold Birmingham City in the top flight after 2005-06, and following his departure in 2007, underwhelming stints at Wigan and Sunderland followed before he found his way to Hull City.

    It's at the KC Stadium where Bruce is reminding us of his strengths, having guided the club from the Championship and into the Premier League.

    A highly respected man for his exploits as a player, the Hull City boss is clearly a great motivator of players, as well as someone who owns a keen eye for young talent.

    But his failure to evolve with modern tactics and admission while at Sunderland that he doesn't hold tactical nous in high regard has always held Bruce back.

3. Mark Hughes

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Wales, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City

    Winning Percentage: 38.84

    Mark Hughes' managerial career is essentially something of two halves.

    Up until his appointment as manager at Manchester City, the former United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich player had led Wales during one of the more successful periods of the nation's recent history between 1999 and 2004, before performing a sterling job at Blackburn Rovers.

    Indeed, his stint at Ewood Park is where Hughes truly formed his reputation, as he steered the club away from relegation and to its first FA Cup semi-final in more than 40 years in 2005, as well as sixth place in the Premier League in 2005-06 that saw qualification into the UEFA Cup.

    In that time, Hughes displayed a knack for producing strong and robust teams that were rather physical and difficult to break down.

    However, despite signing a number of high-profile players that still remain at Manchester City now, Hughes' inability to drive the aspirational club to the expected success damaged his stock, which has seen journeys to smaller clubs in Fulham, QPR and Stoke City follow.

    His failures at Eastlands can be attributed to an apparent inability to command authority in the presence of big-name players, as well as a rather limited approach tactically.

    It must be acknowledged that his time at Craven Cottage was positive, guiding the team to eighth place and the Europa League in his only season in charge, but his decision to leave the club in 2011 was the wrong one and was followed by a disastrous time at the helm of Queens Park Rangers.

    Hughes is now attempting to repair his CV by taking on the task to somewhat transform Stoke City.

2. Gordon Strachan

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Aberdeen, Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Coventry City, Southampton, Celtic, Middlesbrough, Scotland

    Winning Percentage: 41.70

    Among Sir Alex Ferguson's former players, Gordon Strachan is among the most successful in the managerial game.

    Despite falling out with the famous United boss, Strachan enjoyed a marvelous period of success in the Scottish Premier League with Celtic between 2005 and 2009 that saw the Scot claim six major trophies at the club, including three successive league titles.

    Renowned for his rigorous methods and intense emphasis on discipline, health and tactical preparation, Strachan led the Scottish powerhouse to unprecedented heights during his tenure.

    Perhaps more impressive was steering his club into the final 16 of the Champions League in 2007-08 after wins over AC Milan, Benfica and Shakhtar Donetsk.

    That fruitful spell came on the back of promising seasons in 1997-98 with Coventry City and between 2001-03 with Southampton.

    The only major failure on Strachan's CV is his vastly unsuccessful one-year spell at Middlesbrough in 2009-10.

    Now in charge of the Scotland national team, the former Celtic boss has overseen a marked improvement in the team, despite failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

1. Laurent Blanc

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    Played Under Ferguson At: Manchester United

    Team(s) Managed: Bordeaux, France, Paris Saint-Germain

    Winning Percentage: 62.07

    After a highly successful playing career with clubs such as Montpellier, Napoli, Barcelona, Inter Milan and finally Manchester United, Laurent Blanc has enjoyed a prosperous managerial career.

    In just his second season in charge at his first managerial post at Bordeaux, Blanc remarkably lifted his side to claim both the Ligue 1 title as well as the Coupe de la Ligue in a remarkable heist from the Lyon and Marseille-dominated establishment.

    In the subsequent season, Blanc's Bordeaux topped its Champions League group, which included Juventus and Bayern Munich.

    Despite a brief stint in charge of the France national team amid of period of instability and controversy, Blanc has handsomely returned to club football, leading Paris Saint-Germain to the Trophee des Champions, Coupe de la Ligue and most likely the league title after taking over from Carlo Ancelotti.

    Aligning with Arsene Wegner's philosophy of attractive possession football, the Frenchman looks set for an extended stay in the management of Europe's upper echelon.

    Note: All winning percentages provided by Transfermarkt.