Top 4 Managers to Replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson. The name is etched in football history. He’s made Manchester United what it is today: a top club winning trophies on a yearly basis with a worldwide reputation. Twenty five years managing one football club is extraordinary considering that modern day managers are lucky to last one season with their respected teams. Thirty seven trophies is an astonishing amount, not to mention the platform of champion players that have played and been created under Ferguson: Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo, to name a few. Many consider Ferguson to be the greatest manager of all time. With Ferguson looking at another decade at the club, there will not be another one like him. Or could there be?

Names enter your mind. Could there be another manager that could succeed Ferguson in terms of trophies won, longevity at the highest level and the rebuilding of teams?

Listed below are four managers who could be considered the ‘next Alex Ferguson’; it’s a long-shot, one in which we might have to wait another several years to see, but the potential and class is there to be witnessed:


Two Champions League trophies, six league titles, six domestic cups and one UEFA Cup in 10 years of a managerial career is an astonishing record. It’s one of the reasons why Jose Mourinho is called the “Special One”. You could say his record is better than Ferguson when he started his career at Aberdeen and his first years at Manchester United and he has the potential to exceed Sir Alex’s trophy haul.

His tactical nous; his man-management skills and team building is what makes Mourinho one of the best modern day coaches. In similar circumstances to Ferguson, who led Aberdeen breaking the Old Firm dominance in Scottish football, winning three Scottish league titles; Mourinho led FC Porto to European glory with a restricted budget, playing with a never-say-die attitude.

It’s Mourinho’s team building skills that take centre stage. Given unlimited funds during his time at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho has used the money to build the teams he believed could dominate football. While there might be egos within an expensive team, Mourinho managed his players; both motivational and tactically. His transformation of Samuel Eto’o from striker to wide-right forward with a defensive role is a credit to his ability to get the best out of his players. His Real Madrid team is constructed in his way: Superb on the counter, dominant in possession, fiercely defensive and built with a winning mentality.

At one point, Mourinho was heavily linked to replacing the Scotsman when talk of retirement came up in the press. Will Mourinho take charge of Manchester United one day? Probably not, but ‘The Special One’ will push Ferguson’s trophy haul very close.


Messi, Xavi, Villa, Pedro, Puyol, Dani Alves. Just to name a few of what many critics and football pundits are saying is one of the greatest sides to ever play football. Barcelona 2009-11 is a team build like no other, playing dynamic football, scoring goals for fun and winning trophies by the dozen. A team like this needs a manager to ensure that not only do they play and win, but to maintain its dominance, to motivate this team which has won everything that can be won. Josep Guardiola or Pep for short, is the creator of this magnificent team.

Learning from his mentor, Johan Cruyff, Guardiola’s philosophy of tiki-taka football, characterized by short passing and movement, maintaining possession and working the ball through various channels, has been perfected to the extreme. His team plays no other way and Guardiola’s obsession with pressuring the team upfront has ensured that Barcelona bombarded their opposition’s goals, forcing them into mistakes and costly errors. Possession is a form of defence for this team.

What makes him similar to Ferguson is not just his style of play, as Ferguson himself is a fan of playing fast, attacking football, but his ability to motivate his players. After winning two Champions League trophies plus three consecutive La Liga titles, most managers would find it difficult to motivate their squad and make them win it all again. But Guardiola has done that. He’s been able to make his players push themselves for the team, winning games at all costs, not letting egos get in the way of the team (example being the selling of Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic). What’s scary though is that Guardiola doesn’t look like letting up, with a fourth La Liga and third Champions League title in his eyes. Being the iconic son of Barcelona, he doesn’t look like leaving any time yet. Another 25 years perhaps?


While he is technically known as the ‘New Mourinho’, there is no question that Andre Villas-Boas could in fact become his own man. One season of top-flight football doesn’t mean you’ll have a fantastic career in front of you, but Villas-Boas’s start was sensational. Unbeaten in the Portuguese League, winning both the Portuguese Cup and the Europa League in his first season, Villas-Boas has all the ingredients to become a fantastic manager.

Managing Chelsea is another thing all together. But unlike previous managers at the Blues, Villas-Boas has been given the chance to construct his own team, creating it in his own way, playing a very similar style to Guardiola’s Barcelona. Old timers like Drogba, Lampard, and Malouda are making way for the new breed of Torres, Mata and Lukaku. His start has been impressive and Chelsea is still in the hunt for all major trophies this season. He has started from scratch, rebuilding the club in his own way – much like Ferguson did on his arrival in 1986.

Villas-Boas’s ability is to construct teams playing his way, but in a similar mould to Ferguson, managing his players. To his players’ eyes, he is their best friend, building close relationships so that they do anything and everything for their manager. But he is also known to (for lack of a better expression) give his players the ‘hairdryer’ treatment. Remind you of someone else?

The only thing going against this very talented manager is that he himself admits that coaching a team is “a stressful job, which is why I don’t want to be doing it for a long time.” Ferguson though also brushed away retirement in 2002 and Manchester United has dominated since then. Could Villas-Boas talk himself out of retiring at an early age and establish a team decade of dominance?


A long shot, but Jurgen Klopp, Borussia Dortmund’s manager, has the potential to be one of the best managers in the game. A bit early to judge, but Klopp has shown the skills and abilities to create and manage a team to success.

He became Dortmund coach in 2008 after seven very successful years at Mainz 05. His real success comes from managing Dortmund. Arriving at the club, he did away with the older players and instead focused completely on youth. Over three seasons, Klopp has developed Dortmund from mid-table achievers to Bundesliga champions. A one-off perhaps? Maybe, but Klopp had planned the implementation to give younger players a chance to impress; a very similar plan concocted by Ferguson, putting then youngsters Beckham, Scholes and Giggs into the first team. The success was instant, and Klopp has followed the same path.

The names now speak for themselves: Mats Hummels, Mario Götze, Kevin Großkreutz, Robert Lewandowski, Lucas Barrios and now Real Madrid player Nuri Sahin. It’s Klopp’s ability to successfully implement these young players into a formation and style which has lead to glory. In terms of man-management, Klopp was able to keep these younglings motivated and not let them crumble in the run-in to the Bundesliga title last season. Something that even great managers like Arsene Wenger has failed to do at Arsenal. Klopp showed great experience by even taking off Mario Gotze at one point last season because he was “too good” and didn’t want the media to put extra pressure on Gotze. Clearly Klopp knows how to handle the players and the media.

Faced with a rejuvenated Bayern Munich this season, and facing Champions League matches, Klopp has managed keep the motivation high. Dortmund are in second place behind Bayern and still have a chance to make the Round of 16 in Europe if they win their final two games. But with Klopp in charge, that’s possible. A long shot, but the potential is there.

17 thoughts on “Top 4 Managers to Replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United”

  1. As good as all these names seem, I think SAF will want to promote one of his own to run the club the “United way” as he would like it. Some one who played for him, who knows his philosophy and has the club at its heart. An outsider might impose his own style without regard for the United way that Fergie has ingrained at this club for a quarter century. I think it will probably be some one like Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs. It’s ironic that you mention that all your choices are foreigners(non-British), because I think Ferguson will only trust a Brit to run things at Old Trafford. Only a British will understand how the supporters of a club feel, and respect the history of the club; the foreigners are only their for the paycheck. He’ll want someone who is resourceful and good at man-management. Guardiola was ingrained in the Barcelona way which is also good, but you cannot translate that at United. United has their own way of playing, as does every other team in the world. Mourinho is not built for the long-term; you give him a bunch of money and he’ll buy some really high-name players and after a couple of years, he’ll go to some other club. AVB still has to prove himself. Jurgen Klopp will need to learn English and learn it fast so he can communicate with his players, and I don’t Fergie would trust a German to run United, since Bayern Munich are his long-term nemesis in Europe. Same reason he probably wouldn’t want a Spaniard now that Barcelona are his new nemesis in Europe. Ferguson may be still have his humble Glaswegian roots, but he is a proud man and there is no way he’ll never pick some one who used to be his managerial rival(Wenger, Mourinho, Guardiola) and robbed him off some trophies he felt he should have won. It will ultimately be a British man who Fergie feels is competent and smart enough to manage. He’ll want someone who promotes the young players from the United academy instead of spending money on foreign talent and only spends on a rough diamond he can cultivate and improve and turn into a world-class player. A foreigner might look condescendingly upon the British talent at the United academy and feel like he has to spend money on foreigners, therefore undermining the SAF way and also further impeding the progress of English and British players who have world-class potential….

  2. that’s exactly what Man City are doing, trying to win the Championship with expensively-assembled talent from around the world at the expense of potential talent from the Home Nations of the British Isles. Even though I support Arsenal and can’t stand Fergie the person, I still respect him because he pioneered the success of English clubs in European competitions by winning the CL in 99. It opened the way for other English clubs to take that competition seriously and do very well in it. People like him and Kenny Dalglish believe that they can succeed with raw British talent and may many more managers like this come!! Managers who promote players from within their academy and let them flourish instead of bringing in expensive talent from outside the Isles and leaving the academy boys out in the cold. That’s what the Etihad Airlines folks are doing. I would prefer City or United to win the league, but the Fergie way of the last 25 years of achieving success is much more praiseworthy than the current City methods of the last 3 years since the Sheiks bought the club.

  3. I cannot agree more with Tony here. SAF can’t have foreigners be the next him. There can’t be another SAF. The next person who will run ManU can only be more or less than SAF in terms of achievements.

  4. I think football is at a crossroads now…when Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and they went on to win two Premier League titles in a row, “buying the best with all the money you have” became the mantra. Now that Barcelona are dominating in Europe and both United and Barcelona have a huge fan-following now in the last couple of years, and both teams don’t spend on big stars but build their own players and buy a player that will compliment the side, “grow your own players” is becoming the norm with Man City the opposition to that. You look at Bayern Munich, they are run by Germans who aren’t as rich as the sheiks who own Man City, yet they continue to buy good players that will become world-class players. Yeah they have Ribery and Robben, but they have players that compliment them such as Mueller, Gomez, Sweinsteiger, Kroos, etc. Even if they buy, they buy mostly German. they’re too dignified to sell themselves to the ‘flavor of the year’ unlike some other clubs. they might be the silent assassins of the Champions League considering everyone is focused on the two Manchester clubs, and the big two of Spain.
    So basically on one hand, you have teams like United, Arsenal, Barcelona, and Bayern who usually grow their own or buy cheap domestic talent, and you have City and Real Madrid who think they can just dole out cash to the world’s best players like candy and expect them to win a trophy in one year. Let’s see who wins out..

    1. Ferdinand, Berbatov, De Gea, Hernandez, Rooney, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Nani, Anderson, Young, Jones, Valencia, Owen, Kuszczak. Where did United find these players? In Manchester?

      The perception that United don’t spend any money is so insane it borders on outright dementia.
      Most of these players were not cheap.

      1. I didn’t say they didn’t spend ANY money. Read the post carefully. I said they spend money but they spend it wisely on positions they really need. The reason they bought De Gea was because Van der Sar retired. He’s a difficult goalkeeper to replace.and De Gea is still an unproven talent. He is young and doesn’t have much international experience because Casillas, Valdes, and Pepe Reina are higher in the pecking order than him. He’s the kind of player that Ferguson wanted, someone who is unproven but talented, and who will relish the challenge of playing at Manchester United. Ashley Young was also bought for the same reason. No one knew who Vidic was because he never played for a glamorous club but now he’s a world-class international centerback. Ferdinand was young when he was bought but Ferguson saw something in him, gave him encouragement to succeed and look where is now. He’s towards the end of his career, and that’s why Ferguson has Phil Jones playing and has continued to stick with Johnny Evans even though Evans still hasn’t shown any progress in his game. But my point is, every club spends a little money to refresh the squad because obviously, you cannot play your whole youth team and expect to get huge results in one year either. People forget that from 2004-2006, United didn’t win the league and yet Ferguson rebuilt the team and now they’ve won 4 out of the last 5 Championships. I still prefer City over United to win, but only this season. After that, only those teams should be rewarded who promote their own and stick with them rather than buy from outside.

        1. I did read your post: “and both teams (Barca & United) don’t spend on big stars but build their own players and buy a player that will compliment the side, “grow your own players” is becoming the norm with Man City the opposition to that.”

          That is a laughable statement b/c it’s not true. Both teams have spent huge amounts of money playing players. United have not spent a little money, they’ve spent a lot of money b/c they have the coffers to do so. This myth that United do business the correct way is not true. The amounts spent on Rooney & Ferdinand could fund numerous Premier League clubs a new starting eleven.

          This isn’t to say no other teams do this but it is not TRUE that United are the exception b/c they are in fact the norm.

          1. Obviously, every big team spends money. Even Arsenal spent big to get Gervinho. But we’re talking about the kind of talent that teams buy. United are a team that is willing to spend money on players who have proven themselves on a smaller stage but are far away from their prime and Manchester United is a perfect platform for them to perform and show they can take it to the next level and have their prime at Old Trafford if they work and play hard enough. Teams like Man City and Real Madrid buy superstars and tell them that because they’ve been expensively assembled, there is no reason for them not to win the league or European Cup. Like I said every team needs reinforcements every year. You cannot field a starting XI of only youth academy boys if you’re a club like United or Arsenal and looking to win the league every year and finish in top 4. teams lower down the divisions can do that, but once the quality of play increases higher up the football pyramid, you have to spend to compete. That still doesn’t stop you from promoting your own if and when you want to. Hope I made my point clear to you.

          2. @ Tony

            I don’t know what to tell you really. You have a real rosy view of how United go about buying players.

            United and Barcelona aren’t different from other clubs they’re like everybody else. You seem to think United are doing a service to world football when they buy players.You just don’t like City or Madrid and dislike the fact that there’s a new rich club in town.

  5. I’m just glad to see that David Moyes has slipped off the radar, although it would be nice if that hadn’t coincided with Everton’s big drop in form this season.

  6. United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left managing the United Reserves to return home to Norway to manage his former club Molde. He led them to their first championship in 100 years. In a few years he will return to be Sir Alex’s right hand and then be the Uited manager when Sir Alex retires. Ole is United through and through.
    Who put the ball in the German net
    Who put the ball in the German net
    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

    20 Legend

    1. Was thinking he’s exactly the kind of unassuming candidate SAF would hand over the club to. He hasn’t damaged his coaching reputation yet like Bruce, Keane, Robson have.

      Of course Mark Hughes is lurking around as well.

  7. My theory, promoted in many places :) Is that Man Utd should bring in a high (but not highest) profile manager, right now. Someone like David Moyes. Pay him a full manager wage, and have him be #2 for 2-3 years (this could be done later if SAF is planning to stick around). Have him learn the system from the inside.

    I just don’t think anyone currently inside Man Utd is up to the job. See the post Busby era for an example. You need someone with proven strength and metal and someone who would be there for the long run. All the examples given in the main article would be short term solutions.

    Solskjaer is a possibility providing he comes back as the right hand man first.

  8. Has he always let’s the world know about their wonderful history, i’m sure he fully aware of the nightmare years following busby’s retirement,this is what keeps him there,this is what keeps him awake at night.he’s arrogant enough to beleive their is no replacement for him,so on he go’s playing his fiddle with no future plans other than how to increase oversea’s shirt sales,how can we make one more expansion to the ground (so as to take the attendance record from the noisy neighbours, a word to the wise here that was 84,000 mancs in the ground that day).so carry on fergie,as you pass busby’s statue on the way in.

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