Life without the Gaffer.

27 Jul

It’s unthinkable to many, life at Manchester United without Sir Alex Ferguson. This is because for so many, including myself, he is the only United manager that any of us can remember. We never witnessed the genius of another Scot, one Sir Matt Busby, or suffered through the days of Ron Atkinson and co. Sir Alex has always been there, leading United to trophy upon trophy. He has nurtured some of the finest footballers to ever live, including Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo. The list goes on. After winning an incredible twelve league titles, two Champions Leagues, and a Club World Cup among others, he has been there, done that and bought the t-shirt as they say. He is undoubtedly the greatest manager of all time. His achievements may never be matched by anybody.

There is one thing that has and always will elude Sir Alex Ferguson, however. Immortality. It is no secret that Fergie is coming to the end of his innings, and the end of his time at Old Trafford. There will be a time when he will not be sitting in that famous dugout week after week. The question is, who will be? There have been dozens of names linked with the job, some of which you may of heard of. Today I’m going to go through some of those names and try and decide whether they’re worthy. So, without further ado:

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho, or the self proclaimed ‘Special One’ has never tied to hide his admiration of both Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson. He thrived on the rivalry between his Chelsea side and United. His friendship with Sir Alex grew stronger over the few years that he was in England, and he was by far the greatest challenger that Ferige has ever faced at Old Trafford. Ferguson has publicly praised Mourinho on several occasions, therefore Mourinho would certainly be one of Sir Alex’s picks for the job.

Mourinho’s record speaks for itself. He has won league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain. This success in multiple countries is something that differentiates him from the rest. Give him a team, give him some cash to splash and he will bring you success. His finest moment came in 2010 when his Inter side won the historic treble (Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League). Now, after knocking Barcelona off the top spot in Spain, he has to be considered as perhaps the best manager in the world. His name has been linked with Manchester United for years, and one day he may very well be our Special One.


Pep Guardiola

Hailed for the style of play he has introduced at Barcelona over his four years at the club, Pep Guardiola has already established himself as one of the most successful managers the Spanish game has ever seen. After a long playing career with Barca, Guardiola was named as the manager of Barcelona in 2008. Straight away, he started putting in place his plans for his team. By selling former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho and Deco, he stunned the football world. But he also sent out a resounding message to everybody; he was not to be messed with, and he knew what he wanted to do. This determination and fearlessness has allowed him to be an instant success, winning the treble in his very first season in management. This included a Champions League final victory over United, in which his new look Barcelona gave a classic Manchester United team a footballing masterclass. This feat was to be repeated two years later, at the same stage no less. Sir Alex didn’t and still doesn’t know how to get the better of the Spaniard.

Guardiola comes with inexperience. Then again, so did Sir Alex in ’86. That was a risk, just like an appointment of Guardiola would be. His name, along with Mourinho, has been heavily linked with Old Trafford.  Now, as he takes his year long break from the game, rumours of his interest with the job are rife. Could he be waiting out for Ferguson’s retirement? It’s very likely. As well as his inexperience, he brings success. Winning three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues and two Club World cups, he has enjoyed the same success in Europe as Sir Alex in a much shorter space of time. Make of it what you will, but that is quite something.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

‘Beckham, into Sheringham, and Solskjaer has won it!’ That line of commentary will forever be associated with Manchester United and, in turn, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A true United legend, he will always be adored by fans for what he did for so many years on the pitch. But what so many United fans may not know is that he has turned into quite the manager. After a sensational eleven years at United, he hung up his boots to take charge of the Manchester United Reserves in 2008. It may not be the most high profile start to management like Guardiola or Mourinho enjoyed, but it is as close to United as you can get, which is crucial. The instant support of the Old Trafford faithful is something that only a couple of potential managers would have. Ole did a fantastic job with the reserves, winning the Reserves Premier League in 2009-10. This team even included Mr. Danny Welbeck, who worked well with one of his footballing heroes.

Solskjaer has also experienced success at a higher level, back in his homeland Norway. He joined former team Molde in 2010. His Molde side won the Norwegian Premier League in 2011, giving Ole his first taste of first team silverware. Ole may not seem a viable option for Manchester United, not compared with Guardiola or Mourinho anyway, but Ole has been recognised by other Premier League clubs recently. When Aston Villa sacked Alex McLeish, one of the first managers they approached was Ole. This says to me that he is Premier League quality, after just a year and a half in full management. There is no doubt Solskjaer would be a popular choice with the United fans, even if he does lack experience at the highest level.


Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs is Manchester United. Often regarded as the best player to ever wear the famous red shirt, Giggs is the most decorated player in British history. Even today, with younger, faster players around him, his class and ability still shows. Many believe his phenomenal football brain can easily be transitioned into management. He has been linked, along with the other three, heavily. This is perhaps less serious though. I can’t help thinking it’s more of a case of wanting Giggs as manager because he’s Ryan Giggs, and not because he is/could be a good manager.

Ryan has obviously never managed, as he is still going at the age of 38. This is simply too inexperienced to take the United job for me. The fact that the likes of Gurardiola and Mourinho are reportedly interested in the job just scupper Giggs’ chances in my eyes. The perfect solution; Mourinho or Guardiola take the United job for a year or two, build a team worthy of dominating Europe whilst Ryan or Ole gain more experience with other clubs. Then, when Guardiola/Mourinho decide to leave, transition Giggs/Solskjaer into the job with as little pressure possible.


It will certainly be emotional when Sir Alex leaves United, whether it’s his choice or not. But what us as fans must do is look to the future and demand the very best out there to replace the Scotsman. No matter how much our hearts tell us that Giggs or Solskjaer are the best choices for the job, they simply aren’t, not yet anyway. We need a proven manager, who has won the biggest and best trophies. Mourinho has done it in multiple countries, one of which being England. He knows the domestic game ad he knows how to win it, and win it well. This is why he is my choice for Sir Alex’s replacement when that time eventually comes.


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