Sir Alex Ferguson has built an imposing legacy at Manchester United – 20 years, 9 league titles and a glittering array of stars. His impact on the game can be judged in different ways, such as the number of former players who are now successful managers. He has taught, he has won, and most importantly, he has reinvented.
The current Manchester United squad – being rebuilt into SAF’s 3rd great team – retains SAF’s core principles (fast, aggressive, defend and attack in packs) and is one that is respected across England and in the Premiership. A lot of it is based on the club’s attraction and financial strength, but it’s up to the manager to get the players to play together and to their strengths, and Alex Ferguson is a master at doing that.
This time last season there was talk of SAF leaving Manchester United – and there I said that Ferguson should be given time till the end of the 2007/2008 season before any decisions are taken. This season just goes on to prove that Ferguson still has what it takes to succeed with United. However, this season has also brought through a couple of potential successors for Ferguson.
If Sir Alex Ferguson is to ever leave Manchester United (and he will, eventually), only a manager of the highest quality should be brought in. Experience is necessary but not over-riding – we need a manager who demands instant respect, is tactically astute, buys the right players and can get the team winning immediately.
It’s a tough ask, and right now only three-four managers have a track record that fits the description – Jose Mourinho, Roy Keane, Steve Coppell and possibly Mark Hughes.
Right now, it’s way too early to talk about successors – Ferguson in my mind is still good to stay till 2010 – but if anyone has to be watched, I’d watch Keano and Coppell.
And before anyone forgets – in recent years SAF has been quite successful with his transfer market moves – EVDS, Vidic, Carrick, Park, Evra, Larsson, Rooney, Saha, Smith, Kuszczak. He’s had the odd miss (Miller) but overall his record his good. Nani, Anderson and Hargreaves will hopefully be good signings as well.
Let’s just hope Fergie doesn’t fight with another superstar.
This article is Part 5 of our 7-part Manchester United 2006/2007 season review coverage at Soccerlens.