Watching the highlights of last night’s impressive performance by what is essentially Arsenal’s B side against Blackburn in the Carling Cup, I was yet again impressed by the legacy that Arsene Wenger has built at his club. He’s spent little money, invested in the future and the rewards for that policy are paying dividends this season and will continue to do so over and over again in future years.
At the same time, 200 miles north of London in Manchester, Sir Alex Ferguson has used a difficult model in his 21+ years of management at Manchester United. There is a reliance on the youth system but definitely to a lesser extent where instead Ferguson is able to focus on purchasing promising players for significant amounts of money and then turning them into world-class superstars (van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo, Rooney, etc).
Regarding Wenger and Ferguson, the question is whether there have been two managers who have been so successful competing against each other in the top English league at the same time in the history of the game.
Just as one example, when Bob Paisley was taking Liverpool to historic highs from 1974 to 1983 winning 18 major trophies during that time, Man United had three managers in charge — all of whom were relative failures: Dave Sexton, Tommy Docherty and Ron Atkinson. At Arsenal at that same time, they had Bertie Mee and Terry Neill as managers — again, who were relative failures in comparison to the huge amount of trophies that Paisley had won.
Go back through history and you’ll be hard pressed to find a time when there were two more successful managers competing against each other in the top English league. We should count our lucky stars to witness both of them dueling against each other and this season more than most should be very revealing and exciting to see who wins the battle.
The larger question for Arsenal and Manchester United is who will eventually replace Wenger and Ferguson after they both decide to retire. Is Pat Rice the intended successor to Wenger’s legacy? He definitely has been a large part of Wenger’s plan and can see his policies in action, but it would definitely be difficult shoes for anyone to fit into.
At Manchester United, Carlos Quieroz could be the next successor for Ferguson but, as in Pat Rice’s case, does he have what it takes to succeed or are we likely to see someone like Mark Hughes or Roy Keane take that manager’s seat?
If you were the Arsenal or Manchester United board, who would you want to earmark to replace Wenger and Ferguson? Click on the comment link and let us know.