Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The contenders for Fergie's job: Mourinho, Bruce, Blanc, but definitely not Roy Keane...

It's another god awful international break, there's very little to write about of any real interest concerning Manchester United. Is it just me, or is international football becoming really boring? Part of the reason international football has become boring stems from the fact that there are no great surprises any more with players from every continent plying their trade across Europe. I digress; I'll save my ire for the world game for later.

It has been very quiet week news wise, and so not surprisingly the media have dusted down one of their favourite topics for such occasions, that is; who will replace Fergie once he spits out that last piece of chewing gum and calls it a day? No one actually knows for sure when that day will be, the guessing games looks set to continue with the media punting various candidates, so for what it's worth here's a rundown on some of the names that have been touted:

Jose Mourinho - the favourite, but it's by no means a cert..

Without doubt, the charismatic Portuguese manager could have the pick of any job around Europe and if we believe the media he would like to rekindle his 'love affair' with the Premier League.

Like many great manager's before him Mourinho was not a winner as a player, by all accounts he was very average, but like him or loathe him there is no disputing his record as a coach. Mourinho transformed Chelsea from a collection of highly paid losers into serial winners; before that he made his name with Porto when securing the Champions League after knocking out Manchester United. Following his high-profile exit from Chelsea, he won Serie A with Inter Milan and his team currently leads Italy's top division.

However with media reports claiming Mourinho is sick of Italy you can bet the likes of Real Madrid will also come a knocking for his services should the Inter coach pursue an exit strategy. The question is, will Manchester United be vying for Mourinho's services should he become available? While Fergie is said to be an admirer of Jose's work, and the Scot will no doubt be consulted on his successor, but the current United manager will not have the final say and you do wonder if Mourinho is the right man for the job.

Mourinho ticks most of the boxes, and if United's power-brokers were choosing the next manager purely on coaching ability his name would be right at the top of the candidate list. In many ways Mourinho and United seem like a perfect fit, the job would not inhibit him, nor would the constant media attention and providing he was given adequate funds he is without doubt the most likely to succeed when it comes to winning silverware.

So then why is it some pundits and fans think Mourinho to United is a non-runner? For starters, as good as he undoubtedly is Mourinho's relatively short but very successful spells in England and Italy could well work against him, especially given Fergie has been at the club for so long.

Before offering Jose the United job, the club would have to talk to Mourinho about a long-term commitment, but with the ownership of Manchester United itself likely to be a hotly debated topic over the next few years, you do wonder if the Glazer family will be thinking that far ahead. Influential fans group IMUSA recently stated it was their belief the Glazers' will not be the club's owners in five years time...

Ownership of United could well feature in any talks about Mourinho coming to United, because any marriage is a two-way commitment and Jose would no doubt want some assurances about spending and here again that could be a potential stumbling block. Following the sale of Ronaldo to Real Madrid and a summer of low-key signings, the rumour-mill has been awash with claims that the £80m from the Ronaldo sale went to pay the Glazer family debts.

Speculation concerning future transfer budgets and the Glazer family will rumble on, but Mourinho to United is by no means a certainty. If Mark Hughes fails to win a trophy between now and the end of next season then Mourinho to Manchester City could turn out to be a more realistic prospect. Mourinho could dictate his own terms to a desperate, but now very club like City, it would be win, win for both parties.

Steve Bruce - a gamble that could pay off

The name Steve Bruce will not feature alongside that of Jose Mourinho where the top managerial jobs around Europe are concerned and for sound enough reasons. That is unless that job happens to be Manchester United where Bruce blossomed into one of the finest, yet uncapped English players of his time.

Bruce is a big favourite with the United faithful, he is fondly remembered by the fans and everyone connected with the club. Unlike some of his former United team-mates who have tried and failed, Bruce has made a relatively successful switch from player to the managerial hot-seat at clubs like, Birmingham, Wigan and now Sunderland. On paper Bruce should not be offered the United job, because there are too many holes in his CV, namely; lacks European experience as manager; hasn't won any big prizes as a manager.

Despite not ticking some of the really important boxes, there is something about Steve Bruce that makes this Red believe he will be a genuine contender. Where Mourinho offers flair and ability in equal measure, he also brings a degree of risk where stability and continuity is concerned. Although Bruce has been something of managerial nomad himself, like Fergie in Scotland before his move to England, the former United skipper has been on an upwardly mobile journey slowly working his way from bottom to top.

Lauren Blanc - flavour of the month, a Jonah, or the real deal?

As previously mentioned it has been a quiet week, but I missed something last weekend that would surely have jolted me from my mini hibernation, that was the news that another former United defender is being strongly linked with Fergie's job. That man is Larry White, aka Lauren Blanc. Now I have nothing against Blanc whose name has suddenly risen to prominence following some good performances in the Champions League by his current club Bordeaux. With the danger being labelled as an Englander, I have some fears about the appointment of Blanc, the former French defender secured the French League title in only his second season as manager, so it could be argued he ticks more boxes than someone like Steve Bruce. But Blanc is said to be a quiet man and United have had their fair share of problems following the appointment of quiet men, the names of Frank O'Farrell and Dave Sexton still send shivers down the spine of seasoned old-stagers like myself. Personally, and if it came down to the choice I'd pick Bruce over Blanc every time at this juncture. I don't exactly know why, I'm putting it down to gut instinct.

United fans will no doubt recall Blanc was the man Fergie brought in to replace Jaap Stam, as Alan Hansen famously said at the time: "I don't get it, Fergie' has replaced a defender who he says has lost a yard of pace with another who has lost four yards of pace".... Blanc's playing career doesn't really have anything to do with Hansen's comments or come to that his managerial ability, but for now at least anyway, as far I'm concerned, his name will be remembered as a poor choice for a replacement. Blanc could turn out to be the football equivalent of a Jonah, someone who could bring ill luck with him. Not only that, I'd prefer someone who has real passion for the game as Bruce recently demonstrated with his near dustup with Benitez on the touchline.

Roy Keane - "The fans choice" only a couple years ago, but surely not now, not ever....

I wish I had a tenner for every United fan that told me in no uncertain terms that Roy Keane would eventually be a Manchester United manager. From the outset I remained unconvinced and following some very dodgy transfers when he was manager of Sunderland I put a tenner on the Black Cats getting relegated. Only Kenwyne Jones saved Keane and Sunderland that season and I lost my tenner, but he didn't last much longer and it is only a matter of time before the Irishman and Ipswich Town part company following what looks like a disastrous appointment. Keane like Bobby Charlton before him is seemingly destined not to become a top flight manager.

Wilf McGuiness was the man who was tasked with replacing the great Sir Matt Busby, poor old Wilf (left) lasted just half a season before his hair fell out due to the stress of it all...


  1. the big difference between blanc and the rest of these guys is he plays attacking football..which is the biggest box that needs to be checked. mourinho doesn't, as much as i like him, even when he's got the talent to do so. bruce has never really had the cash to have the luxury of being a really attack minded team...and roy keane well you're spot on about him. i like blanc, he's apparently a sort of a confidant (maybe fergie is his) to saf. they apparently chat on the phone alot. i like his calmness, we don't really know what he's like in training etc. blanc is my favorite choice.

  2. I can't really see Mourinho replacing Ferguson. As you say, he has no record of an extended period at any one club, plus no indication that he would continue the Utd tradition of a strong focus on youth.
    My favourite would be Moyes. He has done well with very limited resources at Everton, shown tatical astuteness when dealing with a lack of fit strikers last season and shown a commitment to devloping and blooding young players.

  3. Matt,

    Blanc has only been a manager since 2007, isn't it a bit early to be talking about him being the next United manager?

  4. NTE,

    Moyes is an interesting shout, but I don't see him getting the job.

    Another name to consider is Mark Hughes... I can see him being moved aside if and when Jose walks out on Inter.


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