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