The Daily Star recently ran with the story of “Ferguson out, Mourinho in” with Bill Thornton saying Sir Alex Ferguson would retire as manager of Manchester United at the end of next season and be replaced by the enigmatic, self proclaimed “Special One” – Jose Mourinho.
However, Fergie countered that just days afterwards. The Scot was adamant that he was going nowhere: “It is rubbish,” he said. “I have no intention of retiring and if I did the people I would tell are David Gill and the Glazer family.”
He may have said in the past: “When an Italian says it’s pasta I check under the sauce to make sure. They are innovators of the smokescreen.”
But for those of us who observe Ferguson closely we know that he is quite clearly the master of smoke and mirrors. There is no point in trying to second guess his next move or indeed when he will walk away from Manchester United. The only person who knows that is the great man himself.
For 24 years he has dominated English football and is undisputedly the best manager of his generation. His achievements are beyond doubt. They roll off the tongue – 11 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cup finals, two Champions League crowns as well as the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
There are a couple of things that Fergie has yet to achieve and well, I suppose that is probably why the hunger and desire is still there after all those years at the top. He has yet to accomplish the number one mission – “knock Liverpool off their fucking perch.”
But as he grows closer to his 69th birthday, his future is once again coming under question. The indication seems to be that he WILL retire in the next two or so years. He has been quoted in the past as saying that he does not expect to be in management past 70.
The big question that is on most Manchester United fans lips, including mine is – Who will replace Sir Alex Ferguson?
Well, at the moment, Jose Mourinho looks to be in poll position to make a dramatic return to English football having led Chelsea to two Premier League titles during his time there. He will now lead Inter Milan into the Champions League final next month and it also on to with the League and cup double in Italy.
Certainly has to be considered as a frontrunner, but there is also a chance he could be going to Real Madrid next season which would be perfect for all involved, stay in Madrid for a year or two, win a trophy or two and then answer United if or when they call.
Another contender is David Moyes of Everton, who in the past eight years has worked on shoestring budget but has managed to lead the Toffees to a place in the top six in four of the last five seasons.
He even managed to break up the so-called Big Four in the 2004-05. United would certainly be a big step up for him but it would also be a chance to work with a bigger budget and build a legacy there or would he prefer to continue on with Everton?
Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill, former players Steve Bruce, Roy Keane and Mark Hughes have been mentioned previously as potential successors. Personally, none of those are even close to making a return to Old Trafford as manager.
One ex-player who has enjoyed tremendous success since retiring is defender Laurent Blanc, who we all know Sir Alex Ferguson rates very highly. However, the Frenchman has been touted as a potential successor to national team coach Raymond Domenech after this summer’s World Cup.
Perhaps, reserve team coach and another Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be in with a shout of the job?
Whoever does takeover from Fergie will have some pretty big boots to fill. There will always be that comparison to the predecessor. They will require great strength of character and will almost certainly have to put their own stamp on the club.
Will that person ever compare to Sir Alex? The answer to that is no, there are no two ways about it. Ferguson is the greatest coach ever. I stand by that statement vehemently.
So, who will succeed him as manager I hear you ask? Well, you may be certain that I don’t know, other fans don’t know, Ferguson doesn’t know and the Glazers haven’t got a clue.
And, guess what? The successor doesn’t even know himself.
That’s football for you or as Fergie said himself: “Football, bloody hell.”