Potential replacements for Sir Alex Ferguson

by James Nicholas

With 2013 now firmly upon us, it is important to mention that Sir Alex Ferguson has been in charge of Manchester United for a total of 26 years. With modern day football being the way it is, most managers at any level, are rarely given a real chance to showcase their coaching abilities. However, Sir Alex has beaten the norm, but nobody can deny that he has earned his stripes at Old Trafford, making the decision to keep him on a relatively straight-forward one.

The Scotsman has won an incredible 37 trophies at the Manchester club, including 12 Premier League titles since its formation back in 1992.  But with Ferguson now being 71 years old, it is almost certain that he cannot go on forever as the manager of perhaps the most successful club in English football history. In fact, it was initially thought that Sir Alex would draw a line under his incredible managerial career a few years back when his United side failed to win the Premier League title for three successive seasons. It was one of the first times that his illustrious tenure as head coach had come under scrutiny but Ferguson once again went on to prove the critics wrong by winning three titles in three seasons between 2006 and 2009.

But with there being a host of standout managers around the world, now is perhaps as good a time as any to discuss potential replacements for the manager from Glasgow.

The first manager who many believe would be an ideal person to fill the role is Everton manager David Moyes. Moyes, 49, has a host of avid admirers from around the globe, mostly due to his superb reign at the Merseyside club, which still continues to go from strength to strength. The Scotsman began his managerial career at Preston North End after being given the role in 1998, a decision which came after a spell as assistant manager to Gary Peters. Winning 113 games out of a possible 243 meant that he was touted for jobs higher up the football ladder. Eventually Everton came calling in 2002, a chance which Moyes did not turn down and neither the club nor Moyes himself have looked back since.

The ability to work well under a somewhat restrained budget has always given people the belief that he can achieve success at any club. But after working so efficiently at Everton for approximately ten years now, perhaps the only surprise is that he remains in the hot-seat of the club who play their home games at Goodison Park. Bringing such talents such as Marouane Fellaini and Mikel Arteta to the Premier League have only solidified what has been a highly successful career thus far. Not to mention recognising the talents of a certain Wayne Rooney, a young man who went on to be sold for an initial £25.6 million to yes, you guessed it, Manchester United.

Many would deem it foolish for The Red Devils to overlook the fellow Scot when eventually having to deal with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Even Moyes, who has been so loyal to The Toffees over the years, may find the United job just too good to turn down.

Another route that the upper end of the hierarchy at Old Trafford may choose to go down is appointing someone foreign. Jose Mourinho has always stated his desire to return to England to address what he remarks as ‘unfinished business.’ Nobody can deny the managerial expertise of the so-called ‘Special One’ with him winning titles in Portugal, England, Italy and most recently Spain with current club Real Madrid. Fans and officials have often predicted that Sir Alex would be only too pleased to see someone such as Mourinho takeover from him, as he has all the right tools to succeed in such a high pressure environment, one that he has been somewhat used to this season in Spain’s Primera division. For the first time in a long time, the Portuguese manager has been under increasing pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu, with his team a whopping 18 points behind bitter rivals Barcelona. With this being the case, it may not be long before club officials at the Madrid club are forced into relieving Mourinho of his duties, something which could perhaps work in favour of clubs seeking him out to be the right man for their managerial job.

Pep Guardiola is also a foreign manager who has certainly taken the game by the scruff of the neck since being appointed Barcelona head coach some years ago. A fantastic total of 14 trophies in just four years has made him the most successful manager in the club’s history, before taking a one year sabbatical in New York with his family. Nobody yet knows whether him walking away from the biggest club in the world was a mistake and only time will tell on that matter. A whole host of coaches and managers in the past have suffered from a condition known as burnout, something which causes people to struggle to continue to work due to many factors. Experts such as the Spaniard Guillem Balague have mentioned that the one year break from the game could have in fact aided Guardiola, with his time being spent on seeking new ways of playing the brand of football we have all come to admire and respect. Much the same as Mourinho, the man nicknamed simply ‘Pep,’ has always talked of his burning ambition to work in the English Premier League, a chance which could very well be presented to him by Manchester United. The only problem being that on the 13th of January 2013, German giants Bayern Munich announced that the former Barcelona player would be taking over at the end of the season from the departing Jupp Heynckes, who plans to retire.

Of course, Manchester United may wish to follow a somewhat different route in terms of appointing a successor to the great Ferguson. This different route may come in the form of Sir Alex’s son, Darren. Darren Ferguson is mostly known for his time at Peterborough United, leading the club to promotion from League Two back in 2008 and then again in 2009, into the Championship. Fergie junior has built up a reputation at London Road, with fans seemingly fully behind the 40 year old. Something which has been noted by Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony, who was so supportive of him that he took a gamble of re-appointing Feguson as manager after a short spell with Preston North End, a spell which ultimately led to his sacking. But Sir Alex has been known to be a real guiding light in relation to the his son’s managerial career, with many loan players moving from the Manchester outfit to either Peterborough or Preston, respectively. That coupled with massive amounts of advice could prove to be something which makes Darren’s work an unquestionable success. One thing for certain is that this option would definitely be seen as a big risk, probably making him a real underdog when being linked with the job that his father has occupied for so many years.

Whoever is eventually chosen as the man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson will be tasked with the difficult job of keeping up the work that has gone before him at the club, a task which will not be looked upon enviously by those in and around the game of football. There is still time to make what could be an impossible decision, with Ferguson publicly stating that he has no plans to give it up any time soon and who can blame him? His side sit firmly on top of the Premier League table, making them overwhelming favourites to regain the league title from neighbours Manchester City.

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