Thursday, October 11, 2007

When the sun goes down on our Empire...

Sir Alex Ferguson arguably the greatest football manager in the history of the game. He has brought consistently good football to the club, he has made legends and ultimately brought lots of silverware.

If you think about how short careers are in football and compared them to dog years, his time at Old Trafford has probably been around 80 years, a long time in the beautiful game. However, we all know that nothing lasts forever not even Sir Alex’s glorious reign and at some point it will end. I suspect that another Champions league trophy will bring a rather more abrupt end to his time as manager. This leads me to hope that someone with a shrewd eye is giving careful thought to his, hopefully, successful successor.

There have been calls for Fergie to go in the past, admittedly quiet calls from isolated corners. I for one have not been one of them. My opinion is based on loyalty and appreciation. For he has earned my respect, I will wait until he decides to go. It is not for me to turn against someone who has done so much to make me happy and frustrated.

Never the less plans must be made in preparation for that sad day. Who will be the successor to the throne? Well off the top of my head I can think of four possible runners.

I think the fans choice would have to be Roy Keane. However, Keano is a relative baby in the managerial world and although he has had a fantastic start to his career still needs to prove himself in the top flight.

I would like to see him stay in the premiership for a couple of seasons with Sunderland avoiding any relegation battles and preferably end up in the top half of the table. There is no doubt that he has some talent, how many could have took over the mantle at a struggling Sunderland with a points handicap and still gone on to get promotion in their first season as manager? He is definitely a vote from the heart.

Next on my list is probably the favourite and sensible choice, Mark Hughes. Another former legend at United but with a more experienced managerial pedigree than Keano. He has had a glittering and experienced football career to date both at home and abroad. He has experience at managing his country Wales and whilst doing so brought them right up through the football rankings.

The most important point to note is that he is doing a good job at Rovers and appears prepared to stay with the club and work at it. I want success at United to come from the foundations, from team building, over a period of time, so that it will last. I do not wish to see a quick fix solution like at Chelsea which is just a house of cards. So with this in mind Hughes has to be the thinking fans choice and is surely ahead in the polls.

My next choice and indeed my personal preference is probably a little controversial for some die-hard Reds however if Ferguson was to go unexpectedly tomorrow I think that there is one man who could fill the void immediately and with great success. The problem lies in the fact that he would probably never come. Nonetheless I think he deserves a mention.

Arsene Wenger. A man with a proven track record and with many of the desired characteristics mentioned so far. Loyal to his club, successful, his teams play great football, which is something that we at United expect and most importantly he has a fantastic eye for talent. Talent spotting is an area where I think he tops Fergy. Wenger in my opinion could walk into the Old Trafford job tomorrow and our success would continue unbroken.

The fourth candidate is a bit of a wild card and is only mentioned really due to the current state of play in club football. Jose Mourinho. Currently available and if I am honest I would enjoy the “up yours” to Chelsea his arrival would bring. But that is just the child in me and if I’m honest I have reservations about his longevity. As discussed we need someone who we can rely on through thick and thin. Someone who can guide us through bad times as well as good. I have no doubt that “the special one” has special talent but is he too temperamental for United? His style of football would be another concern, the fans at United expect football with flare. Would Jose just turn United into a Chelsea in Red? I also never quite forgave him for the way he talked about taking the Chelsea job just after the champions league final with Porto. Still in place at Chelsea was the manager at the time Ranieri, a good manager and a gentleman who deserved to be treated with more respect by both Chelsea and Mourinho.

One things for sure whoever the “heir apparent” is will depend as much on timing as anything. I would expect whoever lands the job to be around for a few years so not leaving opportunity for a queue to form. So will Keanos career just be ripening nicely say in two years if Sir Alex decides to go or will Hughes be having a bit of a relegation nightmare at Rovers?

Whoever it may be I hope that we the fans will be able to look forward to many more sunrises at the Theatre of Dreams. Long live the King!


  1. Don't you think that Mourinho is more suited to Liverpool, given their somewhat pragmatic style?

    They were built on Shankly's ethos that the total sum is greater than any of the individual parts. Whereas United have been by tradition about flare and attacking teams. I predict Liverpool will get rid of Rafa and bring in the special one....

    As you say Wenger would never come to United, I get the impression that he cannot abide the club. What's more, he is pretty much in control at Arsenal and I doubt he'd work with the Glazers - though I could be wrong because who would have expected Fergie to do so?

    Btw, Peter-Hill Wood recently said that football clubs belong to the fans and not shareholders, that is getting off the subject slightly but it shows that he is in touch and that he loves his club and here you can see why Wenger has respect for the people who he works for.

  2. I think you are right about Mourinho & Liverpool’s style. I will watch with a keen eye for your prediction. As I said I only threw him in the mix because of his potential availability.

    Again you are right about Wenger & it appears that he will have the opportunity to do everything at Arsenal that he could do up north. The only barrier being himself.

    So that leaves us with Keano & Hughesy. How about a double act? Now I would like to be a fly on the wall in the dressing room at half time with those two.

    That said, what team wouldn’t be so terrified as to pull their respective fingers out at the prospect of getting double teamed by those two.

  3. I wouldn't want Wenger. We don't need a team full of French and Brazilians. A core of English (British?) players is an important attribute in winning the Premiership. More power to Sep Blatter if he can find a way round EU employment law.


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