Sir Alex Ferguson has done it all as a manager in English football. Whilst in charge of Manchester United he has won an incredible 11 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups and 2 memorable Champions League trophies. He has become synonymous with United and Old Trafford wouldn’t be the fortress that it is today without the Scot. Fergie has even managed to make a mockery out of defending and built a defence using midfielders, as Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher have far from disgraced themselves during Man Utd’s current defensive crisis. But can anyone ever replace him and take on possibly the hardest job in football, following Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United?
After spending more than a decade as a manager in Scotland, during which time he was at the helm of Aberdeen amongst others, Fergie took charge of United in 1986 and has never looked back. After a relatively unsuccessful start, the Premier League trophy in the 1990s was all but owned by United and you felt that other clubs only had it on loan before Fergie got his hands back on it. Sir Alex ensured his place in history in United’s treble winning season in 1999 and he has continued to build formidable teams at Old Trafford and evolve with the times. The 67 year old has hinted at retirement many times but has never decided to bite the bullet, and it seems like asking when Fergie will retire is like asking how long is a piece of string?
Compared to some of his major rivals such as Arsene Wenger, Fergie’s record in the transfer market isn’t the greatest in the world. However, many of the players that he has bought over the years have added that spark to the youngsters that he had at the club, and Sir Alex’s record of bringing through youth players is second to none. Whether it be Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville or even David Beckham, the list of players that Fergie has nurtured and turned from rough diamonds into gems in endless. He has also brought in a few greats in his time as well, including Eric Cantona, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and the like. Just don’t mention Massimo Taibi!
Sir Alex loves to get under the skin of his rivals and always gives his fellow managers just enough rope to hang themselves. Kevin Keegan anyone? Fergie commands ultimate respect in world football, but also enjoys the banter and loves to get himself involved in a war of words. On one of these occasions he responded to Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez’s mind games by saying: “I think he was an angry man. He must have been disturbed for some reason.” He only really gets away with some of the stuff he says because of his legendary status in the game and people now always think twice about questioning his authority. Just ask Beckham. After United’s famous victory in Barcelona he also gave us all an idea of how much the game means to him: “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football. Bloody hell.”
Even though it seems that Ferguson will never retire, there will come a day when Fergie and Manchester United finally end their fairytale. It will take a brave and confident man to take over from the legend himself, so maybe only Jose Mourinho has the balls to do it. United fans may want the Red Devils to promote from within, and who would bet against Fergie staying on a little while longer and grooming Giggs, Scholes or Neville for the role? Maybe a former player is the way to go. Fergie obviously doesn’t rate Sparky: “nobody here thought Mark Hughes would become a manager, never in a million years.” But maybe Laurent Blanc has the attributes to succeed Fergie, he is certainly making waves at Bordeaux.
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