Sir Alex Ferguson is the granddaddy of all football managers having won 11 league titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League medals during a glittering 24-year spell at Old Trafford.
Despite rumours suggesting Sir Alex will retire at the end of this season, the 68-year-old has always claimed he will remain at the Theatre of Dreams as long as his health remains in fine order. The Glaswegian’s comments earlier this year certainly confirm that United fans should have nothing to worry about concerning their manager’s immediate health.
“The only thing that determines whether I stay here is my health. And I am in rude health,” he confirmed.
When the former Aberdeen boss does finally decide to retire he will leave gigantic boots to fill in Manchester having been fundamental to United’s success over the last two decades. Current Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has frequently been mentioned as a possible replacement, yet it is impossible to say how long he will be at the Bernabeu or the level of success he will have in the Spanish capital.
Other names mentioned at various stages over the last few years have included former United players Steve Bruce, Laurent Blanc, Roy Keane and Mark Hughes. Former club stalwarts who have all gone onto become respected managers in their own right having worked under Ferguson’s stewardship. New French manager Blanc is the current favourite being tipped to eventually takeover the Old Trafford hot seat and his support will rise should he equip himself well on the international stage over the next few years.
Yet perhaps a more intriguing option could come from Ferguson’s latest bunch of managerial fledglings, who will soon be ready to dip their feet into the crazy world of football management. Baby-faced assassin Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed this week that he would like manage the Red Devils someday, but admitted it’s an ambition which would take decades of hard work and success to achieve:
“I think if you ask any Man United player at any time of his career if you want to manage somewhere you want to manage Man United, because it’s the best place to be,” Solskjaer told talkSPORT.
“But to get there, to manage Man United, you need to go somewhere else and learn your trade so 15, 20 years from now maybe.”
Current squad veterans Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand have all hinted at a possible move into management, while former winger David Beckham has been urged by Fabio Capello to consider a similar undertaking. Everton captain Phil Neville has also publically revealed his desire to try his hand in a management role. Should any of these impress over the next few years then they too could be linked with a possible management role at the club.
Keane, Bruce and Hughes all started their managerial and coaching careers away from Old Trafford and very few former players remain on the club’s staff immediately after hanging up their boots. Yet Ferguson should perhaps consider making an exception and keeping ambassadors such as Giggs and Neville on the club’s coaching staff, with a view to eventually becoming a United manager of the future.
Fergie should make the most of assets such as Giggs, a player who would likely relish the chance of earning his coaching badges and learning his trade under the guidance of Ferguson. These players will eventually have to gain experience outside of the club, but a closer link to the United management set-up from an early stage would be a major positive for both parties.
Manchester United legend Ferguson looks certain to retire in the next few years and it seems one aspect of his legacy will be the large majority of his former players staying involved in football via a career in management.
Yet whether one of the candidates will ever be good enough to eventually replace the great man himself remains to be seen.