At the ripe old age of 71, and having managed the Reds since 1986, it’s clear that Sir Alex Ferguson can’t stay at Old Trafford forever, and is likely to retire within the next few years. But, after 1,478 games under Ferguson’s reign, who would be brave enough to go near United in an attempt to fill the biggest of shoes? When he does leave, there will be a gaping hole left in Manchester, and the manager’s seat on the touch line needs to have the right person sat in it; but who’s good enough for the job?
There’s been speculation over many managers as to who would succeed Sir Alex, but most recently the more popular of the bunch seems to be José Mourinho. Having never really had continued success with a team, Mourinho is currently on track to become the first manager to win the Champions League with three different clubs; Porto, Inter, and now he has a chance with Madrid. There’s no doubt he’s a world class manager, he’s not dubbed “The Special One” for nothing you know. Even after muting United while at Chelsea some years back, Mourinho is still popular amongst the United faithful. He’s got charisma, attitude and ability to spur a team to great heights, so if he’s interested in the job, which he has made subtle hints that he is, then Manchester United will surely consider him for the role.
Another popular, world class manager is Pep Guardiola, former Barcelona manager. He was the man in the spotlight last season, as talks brewed up that this season was to be Sir Alex’s last. But after Ferguson played those talks down, Pep took off to Germany and is now taking charge of the unstoppable force that is Bayern Munich. At the Nou Camp he had unprecedented success, winning three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey’s, Spanish Super Cup twice, the Champions League twice over and two Club World Cup’s. His success is incomparable to most other managers, considering he spent only four years at Barcelona. There’s no doubt Pep has the ability to take over at United, and having been favourite for so long he’s become popular with the fans, but since his move to Munich talks have been dampened and fans have begun to look elsewhere… but did United miss out on Guardiola?
The next possibility is a slightly doubted one among fans, despite achieving a decent run of form over the last few seasons. David Moyes, the manager from the Blue side of the Mersey, has achieved phenomenal things at Everton – while he hasn’t had great luck with silverware, he’s more than made up for it in getting Everton to finish above Liverpool, and is on track to do so for a second consecutive season. That’d be the first time that has happened since the ‘30s, and he’s a real favourite among those at Goodison Park. His faithfulness and loyalty is what attracts the likes of United, as both Mourinho and Guardiola have not maintained excessively long stays at clubs, whereas Moyes has been at Everton for over 11 years now. He’s always had a close relationship with Sir Alex, and while they’re never met at a club, they always seem to be the best of friends when their respective clubs meet. When Sir Alex moves on, is Moyes the man to fill his mighty boots?
My final suggestion is one that if I said it two or three years ago, you’d have thought “no chance”. But, since retiring from United after eleven years at the club, he then managed the Red’s Reserves, before moving back to his native Norway to continue his managing career with his old club Molde. Ole Gunnar Solskjær, a fans favourite at Old Trafford, has had unbelievable success in Norway, achieving two top division titles, including Molde’s first ever division win. With such success, it can only be a few seasons until a bigger move is on the horizon for the Norwegian, and United only seems a fitting place for him to go after he enjoyed eleven years of successful, goal-scoring football. A fan favourite, that’s for sure, but is he experienced enough to take over from Sir Alex? We’ll have to wait and see.
All in all, it’s undoubted that whoever gets the job has a mountain in front of them. After winning twelve Premier League titles with United, and on track for his thirteenth, Sir Alex will leave behind a legacy that not many other clubs can have. Fans will expect success from the off, and having finished in the top two of the Premier League every season since 2005-06, it’ll be a daunting task for whoever takes the reins.