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The Men Manchester United Could Turn To When Sir Alex Ferguson Hangs Up the Chewing Gum and Retires

COS contributor David McMahon looks into the long discussed issue of an Old Trafford replacement for that dark day when Sir Alex finally hangs up the chewing gum.

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Rumours of his retirement have been greatly exaggerated, to his amusement. Sir Alex Ferguson has recently dismissed rumours that he is set to retire from Manchester United after next season, in 2011. These rumours were welcomed by a certain half of Manchester, not to mention those wealthy Arabs, of a blue persuasion. Ferguson’s retirement in the coming seasons is possible; he flirted with the idea a few seasons ago but presumably he envisaged further success was around the corner with the squad he was building so he felt compelled to stay to add to the ever growing trophy cabinet in Old Trafford.

His retirement will signal the end of the reign of one of the most successful managers in football. His successes speak volumes about the man and his desire and ambition to win. He deserves immense credit for the dynasty that he has created at Old Trafford that saw Manchester United top Forbes list as the most valuable football club in the world recently. No doubt, he will be immortalised in Old Trafford folklore when the day comes that he departs from the club. Let us not forget his achievements with Aberdeen and to a lesser extent St Mirren, also. Under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson, Aberdeen were the last club outside of the Old Firm to win a Scottish league title, in 1984/85, and also the last Scottish team to win a European Championship.

Who will be Sir Alex’s successor is the question that reared its head after the false announcement of Fergie’s impending retirement. Speculation was rife as to who would fill the vacancy and according to some tabloids, Ferguson gave Everton manager and fellow Scot David Moyes his support. David Moyes has a good record managing in English football doing admiral jobs at both Preston and Everton. He was also responsible for introducing English football to Wayne Rooney at the tender age of 16, who went on to play for Manchester United. Moyes’s record in the transfer market is decent, too with the purchases of Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta being of exceptional value.

What is obviously lacking on Moyes’s CV are trophies, however, this is understandable seen as he never had the resources to improve his squad to enable them to win trophies. Despite this, he did come close to winning the FA Cup with Everton on a tight budget. If he does get the Old Trafford job in the future it will be a gamble because he doesn’t have a proven track record in winning trophies. There are plenty of other managers with more well rounded CVs than Moyes vying for the job.

The question is who is capable of filling the great man’s shoes? In my opinion I don’t think anyone can replace Sir Alex. Regardless of whoever it may be, they will need to be able to emulate some of Ferguson’s achievements as the Old Trafford faithful won’t settle for anything less. If Fergie were to retire in the near future I would like to see one of the following managers appointed as his successor; José Mourinho, Martin O’ Neill, Guus Hiddink, Pep Guardiola, Marcello Lippi, Roy Hodgson or Louis Van Gaal. A few eyebrows were probably raised at that list but all of them have enjoyed some variant of success and won numerous trophies between them.

There are also a large amount of potential candidates depending on when Fergie decides to call it a day and depending on how their respective managerial careers turn out. Some potential candidates would be Roy Keane, Laurent Blanc, Alex Mcleish, David Moyes, Harry Redknapp, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and any number of Fergie’s Fledglings. I feel they wouldn’t be fit to replace Ferguson at the present time because of their lack of long term success and I would give them time to mature as managers. However, a few years down the line some of them might have the managerial experience to take the place in the dugout of Old Trafford. The competition to be Fergie’s successor will be sure to capture the attention of the media. There will be copious managers speculated to be the heir to Sir Alex’s throne. Only time will tell who gets the nod to follow in the footsteps of Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson.

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