One day hell will freeze over,the same day pigs will indeed be given the power of flight. Quite probably this will be the same day that Sir Alex Ferguson makes his departure from Old Trafford.
On 6 November 1986 sat behind the managers desk for the first time at the helm of arguably the biggest club in world football, even the human-hairdryer himself could never have predicted the magnitude of success to follow. It wasn’t straight forward though. He had to wait until winning the FA Cup in 1990 to lift the first trophy of his regime. Despite lifting the now defunct Cup Winners Cup followed by the UEFA Super Cup in 1991, the league trophy had still had not graced the Old Trafford trophy cabinet since the 1966-67 season. In 1992 Alex Ferguson finally delivered what United hadn’t had since the days of Sir Matt Busby, the league title – picking up the League Cup on the way. What began from this date was the greatest dynasty in modern football.
Ten Premier League titles, five FA Cups three League Cups and two European Cup/Champions League have been won under his tenure to add to the Cup Winners cup, Super Cup, Intercontinental and World Club Cups that he has also picked up. No current manager in European football even comes close to what ‘Fergie’ has achieved at United. Some have suggested that he may retire if he retains the Champions League and Premier League this season – I very much doubt that somehow. But, when the man who has achieved so much in his profession he has even been knighted does finally go, who could possibly replace him?
These are the biggest shoes to fill in football. The pressure on the new man will be immense. The fans will demand instant success, hardly surprising considering what they are now used to. The glare from the media will be as bright as an exploding star and the expectations from the board room will probably be astronomical. These factors in consideration make this job a very daunting one.
Some have suggested the likes of Steve Bruce and Roy Keane are now doing their apprenticeships for the role. I very much doubt this unless Sir Alex gives it another ten years and either of his former players go on to achieve greatness in the meantime. I believe United will want a proven winner, someone with a superb pedigree who not only has years of his experience – but has already had a top job in football.
Men like this are in short supply. Currently managing in the Premier League one man who fits the bill is Ferguson’s longtime rival, Arsene Wenger. The chances of Arsene taking over though are about as likely as Scunthorpe United winning the Champions League. Rafael Benitez is another that ticks those boxes but the odds on him taking over are about as long as a trip to Neptune on bicycle.
Maybe the board of directors will consider David Moyes of Everton – what he has built there on a relative shoestring is certainly worthy of recognition. Everton however (and with the greatest of respect), are not quite European giants and Moyes is yet to win any silverware – though that could be rectified in this seasons FA Cup final.
Martin O’ Neill is another worthy of consideration despite being yet to win anything with Aston Villa, he has bought well and propelled them from being mid-table also-rans to contenders for a Champions League spot and playing attractive football in the process. O’Neill also managed a big club in Celtic and picked up numerous trophies there – however winning a scottish title with the biggest club is perhaps not a huge feat. Especally when you consider that the Glasgow clubs (not including Partick Thistle) that Rangers are the only cones capable of challenging anyway.
England manager Fabio Capello is one man that certainly that ticks every box but after hinting at retiring it appears that ship has sailed. The one man in English football that appears to stand out to me is Guus Hiddink.
Hiddink appears to bat away suggestions every week that he will leave his post as Head Coach of the Russian national team and take over Chelsea permanently. Should he fulfill his contract until 2010 then perhaps he could be an option. What he has achieved as a manager over his long career is incredible. In international football he has guided South Korea to a World Cup semi final, reached the knockout stages with Australia and most recently he took a limited Russia team to the European Championships semi final. His club record isn’t bad either aside from a sour spell with Real Madrid - winning 11 trophies with PSV Eindhoven. He could add an FA Cup to that list when his Chelsea team take on Everton in his last game in charge. This could have been part of a cup double had his Chelsea team not missed out on a Champions league final in stoppage time of a controversial tie with red-hot favourites Barcelona.
Outside of the domestic scene there are few to consider. It appears to be a waste of time looking at the Spanish game as noone has time to build anything before being sacked in the current era. With noone raising the eye brows in the Bundesliga or Ligue 1, the Italian league would be logical place to look.
Chelsea target Carlo Ancelotti is certainly one to ponder but should he take over at the London club he may either fall flat on his backside or build a dynasty of his own – both scenarios making a move up north unlikely. Despite Claudio Ranieri performing well with Juventus, he left the English game in a less than amicable fashion and has few major trophies to show for his efforts.
A ‘little known’ Portuguese fella by the name of Jose Mourinho appears to be the most valid candidate I can possibly think of. His record speaks volumes, everywhere he goes he delivers – particularly at Porto and Chelsea. He is also on the verge of winning Serie A and Supercoppa Italia at walking pace at the first attempt at Internazionale. This would equate to 14 major trophies in just under nine years of management. Perhaps some fans would never warm to him at Old Trafford due to his controversial nature and clinical brand of football but does anyone think he would care or fail? Fergie will probably even put in a good word for him with the Glazers – not that he would need it.