Manchester United: Ranking the Top Candidates To Replace Sir Alex Ferguson

Kevin HoughContributor IDecember 15, 2010

Manchester United: Ranking the Top Candidates To Replace Sir Alex Ferguson

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Manchester United and Valencia at Old Trafford on December 7, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive M
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Eleven League Titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, four League Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners Cup, one Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and one FIFA World Cup, and he’s not finished yet! That constitutes the remarkable haul of Sir Alex Ferguson during his 24-year spell in charge of Manchester United.

    Despite declaring himself too old to retire, the paradox won’t be lost on many. Ferguson will turn 70 next year as well as celebrating 25 years at the helm of the Old Trafford club. United’s hierarchy will soon face the task of sourcing his replacement, an appointment that could define the future of the most successful club of the Premier League era. In fact, it’s such a task, I almost feel duty bound to give them a little help!

    So who are the possible incumbents when Sir Alex finally abdicates his post?

Steve McLaren

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    LONDON - APRIL 15:  Steve McLaren is seen during the HMV Football Extravaganza to Honour Denis Law at the Hilton Park Lane on April 15, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
    Chris Jackson/Getty Images

    On the face of it, the former No. 2 might seem a strange choice. Despite failure in charge of England, the rest of Steve McLaren’s CV looks impressive. He led unfashionable Middlesbrough into Europe and a UEFA Cup final and became the first English man to win a league title since 1996 when he won this year’s Eredivise with FC Twente. That experience of European football, not to mention the thick skin gained from his time in England, might well stand to him.

Steve Bruce

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    SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05:  Sunderland Manager Steve Bruce issues instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and West Ham United at the Stadium of Light on December 5, 2010 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Alex Live
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    A former disciple of the present incumbent, Bruce has long been earmarked as his successor. The former Old Trafford favourite has generally impressed in his managerial career and is currently steering Sunderland towards a European push. If he can gain European experience at the Stadium of Light, then the likelihood of him taking the United hot seat will soar.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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    MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 02:  Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United acknowledges the crowd after his testimonial friendly match between Manchester United and Espanyol at Old Trafford on August 2, 2008 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Davi
    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Might be more of a long-term bet, but the Norwegian's move home to manage Molde seems to be done with one eye on this post. His work with the club's younger players, popularity among the fans and understanding of the United structures mean he could well be among the favourites to succeed the Scot.

Harry Redknapp

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Harry Redknapp, manager of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and Tottenham Hotspur at St Andrews on December 4, 2010 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Matthew L
    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Roundly touted to fill the England hotseat after Fabio Capello’s departure in 2012, but the Old Trafford hierarchy might fancy taking a chance on Redknapp. He certainly ticks a lot of boxes. Spurs have been playing attractive football, and it's culminating in success.  Last season was a fine achievement in topping their Champions League group, but he might represent a decent gamble.

Martin O' Neill

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10:  Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill looks dejected as he watches his team lose in the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON Semi Final match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on April 10, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by
    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    O' Neill has long being touted as the Scot's successor, and it's not hard to see why. A qualified success at each of his four previous posts along with some fine European runs at Celtic Park to boot. Reservations about his propensity to tire out a squad have been mooted, although at United, he would inherit a big enough playing pool to make rotation a necessity rather than a luxury. 

David Moyes

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11:  Everton manager David Moyes looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Wigan Athletic at Goodison Park on December 11, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
    Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

    While Moyes may well have reached a glass ceiling at Goodison Park, his credentials are sound. A shrewd operator in the transfer market as well as a proven track record at bringing through young players mean he’ll be a sought after commodity. He lacked European experience but still might be a decent bet to steady the ship after the shock of Ferguson's departure.

Laurent Blanc

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Laurent Blanc coach of France signals from the touchline during the international friendly match between England and France at Wembley Stadium on November 17, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Ima
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    The former French captain may not have enjoyed the most successful playing career at the club, but his impressive start to management has linked him with a return. Attractive football led Bordeaux to league glory, and if he can settle the egos of the French squad, there could be no greater testament to his management skills.

Fabio Capello

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 16:  England manager Fabio Capello speaks to the press after the England training session at Wembley Stadium on November 16, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    With his contract up at the end of the 2012 European Championship campaign, his departure could well dovetail with Ferguson’s. A championship winner at every club he’s ever managed, Capello may well like to complete the triumvirate of titles in Europe’s main leagues.

Guus Hiddink

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 30:  Chelsea Manager Guus Hiddink celebrates victory during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON Final match between Chelsea and Everton at Wembley Stadium on May 30, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Hiddnik seems to prefer the leisurely lifestyle of international management, but Chelsea have tempted him out before, and he may find the lure of Old Trafford too hard to turn down. He had a seamless induction to Premier League life at Stamford Bridge and steadied an ailing ship to great effect. Given that may well constitute his brief at Old Trafford, he should be among the forerunners for this position.

Pep Guardiola

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 12:  Head coach Josep Guardiola of Barcelona claps his hands during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at Camp Nou Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won the match 5-0.  (Photo by Dav
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Pep only accepts one-year contract extensions at Camp Nou which leaves his future in perpetual doubt. The stance isn’t of a man with long-term ambitions at the club, and Fergsuon himself is said to be an admirer. His style of football is world renowned. It would be interesting to see if he could ameliorate the Old Trafford setup into the seemingly flawless structure used at Barcelona.

Jose Mourinho

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 29:  Head coach Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid follows the game during the la liga match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium on November 29, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    The special one's nomadic tendencies along with the proclivity of change enjoyed by Florentino Perez mean the special one’s stay at Real Madrid may not be long in duration. He certainly won't be fazed or over awed and is likely to look at Sir Alex’s haul as a challenge rather than a noose. Aspersions may be cast over his style of football, but fans are won over remarkably quickly by success.

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