Monday, April 21, 2008

Stage set for Fergie to retire - who should replace him?

IF United go on to win the Champions League and or the Premier League title, the stage would be set to bring down the curtain on Ferguson's glittering managerial career. Lessons were learnt from the last time the Scot stated his intention to quit, the announcement led to a malaise within the squad and so when the club eventually confirmed that the manager was staying on, it was also stated that in future things would be done very differently.

Ferguson has been asked when he's going many times; his response has always been fairly coy, usually he's brushed off the question when saying 'I don't know, it could be next week'.

Ill health has often been cited as a possible reason for going sooner rather than later, the manager has also hinted that he'd like to win the Champions League at least one more time before leaving Old Trafford for good.

If United do go on to win the Champions League, the manager could say enough is enough, who could blame him? Only Eric Cantona has quit United at the top in recent years and for Ferguson, lifting the big one in Moscow in May would be the ultimate way to go out in a similar blaze of glory. Few top managers have ever had the chance to leave of their own volition.

Personally, I believe that perhaps now is the right time for him to go. No one wants to see another Jock Stein. The then the Scotland manager died at Ninian Park in a World Cup qualifier against Wales in 1985.

One wonders what would happen if Fergie did decide to quit, would the likes of Ronaldo ask for a summer transfer to Real Madrid? A lot would depend on who replaced the manager - let us not forget that Jose Mourinho remains out of work, though the clever money is on him joining an Italian club, the current favourites are Inter Milan. While Mourinho is indeed a superb tactician, would his style of pragmatic football go down well at Old Trafford? The jury is very much out on that question, added to which he has record and a personality which suggests that he wont hang around anywhere for too long. There has been talk that Mourinho could even replace Benitez...

Many United fans would be happy to see Mark Hughes or even Roy Keane replace Ferguson; the latter is not for me, not at this stage at any rate. Keane has bought some very average players and lacks experience and he's spent a lot of money too. Hughes would be a far better choice at this juncture. However, the truth of the matter is, where former players are concerned, none stand out as the obvious replacement.

No doubting the usual suspects will be trotted out should Fergie decide to go, Klinsmann, Guus Hiddink and Frank Rijkaard will be among the big names front-runners and don't rule out Marco Van Basten being linked.

However, I believe that Roman Abramovich has first pick where Hiddink and possibly Rijkaard are concerned. The Russian Oligarch was behind Hiddink being appointed Russia's national team coach, where he has a contract until 2010. Hiddink will remain in charge of Russia for as long as the Chelsea owner wants is the bottom line.

Rijkaard is having a less than a happy time of it at Barca this season, though it's true to say that the board wants him to stay on. Informed sources claim that Rijkaard wanted to quit last summer due to personal reasons, he was persuaded to stay on by the Barca president according to the Spanish press.

Chelsea already have Henk Ten Cate working alongside Avram Grant, but it is being reported that the Israeli coach will be asked to stand down this summer, the Dutchman was of course assisting Rijkaard at Barca before moving on to Ajax, but there has been several stories claiming that the partnership could be rekindled at Stamford Bridge this summer.

Some of the biggest jobs in club football are likely to become available over the next few weeks is my prediction. Quite who will fill them will be interesting to find out. I am fully expecting one of the biggest managerial merry-go-rounds in recent times.


  1. How can you not mention Queiroz? to me he is a obvious choice! He knows the club, has the experience, and dont think its coincidence that he has been at our club for a long time. I would of course love to see roy keane for united again, but i am afraid it is to soon.. maybe in the future? and Hughes? i dont think so.. Mourinho? are you kidding? not gonna happen ever.. I am quite sure tough that carlos queiroz will be the man!

  2. Carlos Quiroz - if we have any hope of hanging on to the likes of Anderson, Nani and Ronaldo, we need to keep hold of Carlos Quiroz.

  3. Queiroz? Nah, he wont get the job, at least I doubt it.

    I will admit that there's some strong arguments for appointing him; continuity and being able to communicate with our latin players being the most obvious. Added to which it would be the cheap option - and the Glazers' would just love that. Something tells me that Queiroz wouldn't be a popular choice among many fans and perhaps even among the decision-makers.

  4. Queiroz would clearly have to remain the club setup and so will Ferguson, even after retirement, to a certain extent.

    It is doubtful that Ferguson will even retire as he has also assured that he is ready for more seasons, and only ill health if and when it occurs can stop him. Now would be a good opportunity to do so.

    However, after building what is being termed 'his greatest United side', he would not want to give that up so early.

    Great article though.

  5. I don't think he'll quit. Something tells me he wants to beat Liverpool's number of league titles. And he has the team to do it.

  6. Beating or matching Liverpool's record of League title wins would be a bit special. Ironically, there was a story in the Sunday Mirror which claimed that Fergie has decided to go at the end of next season.

    Regarding Hiddink, there was an update on his situation today too, his agent has played down speculation linking him to Chelsea.

  7. When Fergie leaves (its definitely not this summer),CQ will have a fair shout. This will be the toughest job in World football - to follow in Fergie's shoes. To get someone totally new to the setup or inexperienced to work at that level will be disastrous. With CQ you have someone who knows the setup, the players, the routine. He "has the dressing room". Not to mention that we have a lot of players who speak his language. For me he is the clear choice. Among other names, only Hiddink breeds confidence of having a track record to match United's ambitions.

  8. Paul Ince,
    he's young, passionate, ex-united and doing well at MK Dons


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