Sir Alex Ferguson will leave his job as manager of Manchester United in summer 2011 if recent media reports are reliable. Take the reports with a punch of salt but, should the Scot go, Ferguson will have held the role just a few months shy of 25 years. Who’s in the race to replace the legendary United manager in just over a year’s time?
Jose Mourinho, 47, Internazionale – the charismatic Portuguese manager reportedly wants the job but with Ferguson unofficially not leaving until 2011 the timing may not suit Mourinho. The former Chelsea boss doesn’t like Italian football, and it doesn’t like him, he said recently. Real Madrid is desperate to replace Manuel Pellegrini. The smart money says Mourinho is Bernabeu-bound this summer, although the United board is reportedly interested in signing up Mourinho, who has won major trophies at every club he’s managed. Charismatic, controversial and not without justifiable criticism.
David Moyes, 46, Everton – six years and counting at Everton, Moyes has consistently over-achieved with the cash-strapped Merseysiders. The Scot, who cut his teeth at Preston North End in the Championship, will again need to shop in the bargain basement this summer with Everton happy just to keep hold of start players such as Jack Rodwell. However, Moyes has little European experience, no trophies and a thrashing in the Europa League this season hardly helps the Scot’s cause. Moreover, the recent détente with Wayne Rooney must be genuine.
Martin O’Neil, 58, Aston Villa – the thoughtful Kilrea-born manager has taken his time to make the very top, with lengthy spells at Leicester, Celtic and now the Birmingham outfit. A tactical innovator, O’Neil is widely respected outside of Chéz Benitez but lacks substantial Champions League experience. Moreover, O’Neil has failed to break the top four despite significant investment in Villa by owner Randy Learner. The Irishman is likely to leave Villa this summer after being denied additional transfer funds for investment and may have one eye on the managerial situation at Anfield.
Laurent Blanc, 44, Girondins de Bordeux – the former United defender has taken Bordeux to the Champions League quarter-final this season after breaking Olympique Lyonnais grip on Ligue 1 last year. The French World Cup winner also added the Trophée des Champions and the Coupe de la Ligue to the Bordeaux trophy room. Blanc, known to have Ferguson’s ear, is already being touted as the next French international coach when Raymond Domenech steps down after the World Cup in South Africa this summer. However, the former Barcelona player is going through a tough spell in just his third season as a manager, with Bordeaux now 11 points adrift of Marseille in Ligue 1.
Fabio Capello, 64, England – the England international manager comes with the force of personality and winning mentality to take on the United job but at 65 in a year’s time the former Milan coach is no long-term choice. Winner of four Serie A titles and the Champions League in 1994 with Milan, Capello has all the credentials for the Old Trafford job but will the United board seek greater stability in the post-Ferguson era than the Italian’s short-term appointment could bring?
Guus Hiddink, 63, Turkey – the brilliant Dutchman very nearly pulled the Premier League title out of the bag for Chelsea last season. The former Real Madrid boss is known for tactical innovation, attacking football and a no-nonsense attitude to celebrity players. However, the Dutch coach, who is in constant demand from the continent’s leading clubs, prefers to work at international level. Recently left the post as manager of the Russian national side to take a role with Turkey from June 2010 onwards.
Marcelo Lippi, 62, Italy – another Ferguson confident, Lippi has a remarkable record at both club and international level. The Italian’s haul of silverware includes five league titles, the Champions League in 1996 and the World Cup with Italy in 2006. Lippi, once again in charge of the national side, will leave his current post after this summer’s World Cup. However, the Viareggio-born coach has never worked outside Italy and at 63, if Ferguson retires next summer, not a long-term solution.
Louis van Gaal, 58, Bayern Munich – flavour of the month after the Germans’ win over United in the Champions League. van Gaal’s varied career has included spells at Barcelona, Ajax and the Dutch national side. Following a spell in the wilderness with AZ Alkmaar in his homeland, van Gaal is once again at the very top of the European game. Winner of the Champions League in 1995, van Gaal has built a reputation for trusting in youth, although he has not won a major trophy in a major league for more than a decade.
Pep Guardiola, 39, Barcelona – the Spaniard’s personable outlook, excellent English and wonderful record in a short managerial career place the coach high on many supporters’ wanted list. Blessed with some of the finest talent in world football, Pep has produced a team many regard as the finest in football’s history. He has spent significantly with more than £100 million lavished on Daniel Alves, Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Seydou Keita and Martín Cáceres. Guardiola’s long-term future with Barcelona is unknown, with the coach uneasy in the goldfish bowl but could he adjust to life outside the Barcelona family?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 37, Manchester United Reserves – the Norwegian has adjusted to life well as a coach, drawing praise from Ferguson for his management of United’s second string. Very much an Old Trafford legend and aware of the ‘United-way’, Solskjaer would bring continuity to the club in the traumatic days following Ferguson’s retirement. Winner of the FA Premier Reserves League North in 2010.
Applications not required from Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Bryan Robson, Darren Ferguson, Arsène Wenger, Sven Goran Eriksson or Rafa Benitez