The announcement by Alex Ferguson last Tuesday of his anticipated retirement as manager of Manchester United football club created a problem of choice. But Everton coach David Moyes eventually gets the nod ahead of Jose Mourinho and Jorgen Klopps
| Vincent Nzemeke | May 20, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
LIKE a recalcitrant child, Alex Ferguson created a new problem for football when he announced on Tuesday, that he would be stepping down as Manchester United’s manager at the end of the season. After a sterling 26-year reign that brought in 13 league titles, five FA cups, two Champions League trophies and countless incredible landmarks, Ferguson’s long anticipated retirement has come and the question on everyone’s lips is who will replace the club’s most irreplaceable manager?
When confronted with the same questions sometimes ago, Ferguson himself was coy and had no definite candidate in mind. He said: “United needs to have someone experienced, if I was coming into United today I would struggle because of the beast it is.”
As soon as Ferguson’s retirement became public knowledge Everton gaffer, David Moyes, topped the opinion polls of likely successors. It is believed that being a Scot like the outgoing Ferguson, Moyes has the technical acumen to carry on with Manchester United’s philosophy.
Having taken his first coaching badges at the age of 22, the Scotsman moved into management while still playing for Preston North End in 1998. The impression he made in his first year in the job meant that he was on a two-man shortlist when Ferguson needed a new assistant in 1999. The role went to Steve McClaren but soon Moyes was back on the phone to Ferguson asking whether he should take an offer from Sheffield Wednesday, then in the Premier League but heading for relegation and freefall. Ferguson told him to wait for a better opportunity, which subsequently arose at Everton.
More than a decade has passed since then and Moyes has proven himself an incredible success, despite failing to win a trophy on albeit limited resources. The 50-year-old Glaswegian has, however, always harboured higher ambitions than those he has been able to aspire to at Goodison.
With his contract expiring next month, he is at a crossroads in his career. Although it is understood that his credentials have been discussed at Chelsea, it has been expected that he would be prominent in the thoughts of leading figures at Old Trafford were Ferguson suddenly to head into retirement.
A born winner, the 50-year-old Portuguese has delivered success at every club he has managed and is someone who has never made a secret of his admiration for Manchester United. Jose Mourinho has won seven league titles in four different countries and two European Cups.
Given the fact that his turbulent spell at Real Madrid looks certain to come to an end in the weeks ahead and it seems he is a very credible candidate to succeed Ferguson. That said, with talks over a possible return to Chelsea continuing, it remains to be seen whether a move to Old Trafford is even possible for the former Porto and Inter Milan boss. There are other concerns, too, not least his outspoken approach, familiarity with controversy and confrontational approach. And that is to say nothing of his habit for fleeting spells at clubs.
The 45-year-old German is arguably the most exciting young manager in the game right now, having led Borussia Dortmund to successive Bundesliga titles before taking his fluent, attacking young side to this season’s Champions League final. He has won two Bundesliga titles and led Dortmund to this season’s Champions League final
Klopp has the pedigree and dynamism to take United on and mould a new side in his own image. He has, however, already committed himself to Dortmund for next season despite losing one of his best players – midfielder Mario Gotze – to rivals and fellow Champions League finalists, Bayern Munich. Striker Robert Lewandowski has also been linked with a move to Dortmund’s Bundesliga rivals.
Klopp would represent the future and, because of his lack of experience in English football, something of a risk, but there is no doubting his ability to produce exciting, attacking football teams – something all United fans would welcome.
Best of the Rest
The list of former United players-turned-managers is long, but three Old Trafford favourites in particular – Ryan Giggs, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Paul Scholes – have often been mentioned when talk has turned to United’s coaching staff in recent months. Of the celebrated three, only Solskjaer is in club management.
Ferguson is known to have identified Giggs as a serious candidate for the future, talking privately and with conviction about the idea of the Welshman, or indeed Solskjaer, taking on the role at some stage in the future.
Giggs is in the process of gaining his coaching qualifications, but Ferguson has, in the past, told friends that the 39-year-old midfielder could adapt to the role of manager and ensure continuity in a similar way to that achieved by Pep Guardiola at Barcelona.
Ferguson has spoken similarly about Norwegian Solskjaer, who was a great success in charge of United’s reserve team before he left in 2011 to take over as coach of Molde. The former striker, 40, has led his new club to successive Norwegian titles and was in the running to take over at Premier League side Aston Villa a year ago.
Scholes, 38, has previously advocated Giggs as a candidate to succeed Ferguson. In an interview with FourFourTwo magazine last season, the ex-England midfielder, who appears likely to end his playing career at the end of the season, said: “People have talked about Mourinho. It can change quickly. It’s about who is successful at the time. You just want the best man for the job. I could see Ryan Giggs becoming manager.”
Former United right-back Gary Neville is another who could jump at the chance to get involved in a new Old Trafford coaching set-up and, perhaps one day, take on the top job himself.
Now a successful television pundit, the 38-year-old is already a member of the England coaching team under Roy Hodgson.