The big news hitting the headlines this evening is Sir Alex Ferguson looking like he is set to retire at the end of this season. These are only rumors and very recent ones at that. Nothing has been confirmed or denied by Manchester United, which seems to have only fueled speculation.
Some reports have suggested that it was planned to be released following United’s last home game of the season, while other reports say it will be officially announced tomorrow morning around 10 GMT.
This speculation is coming at a very interesting time considering the possible futures of other managers around Europe. The two names most linked with the possible job are David Moyes and Jose Mourinho, both of which seem to be unsettled at their current clubs. Moyes has yet to sign a new contract with Everton and Jose Mourinho has been hinting at a move away from Real Madrid for most of the season and even more so in the past week. Even Rafa Benitez’s recent comments add to all of this.
As a fan my own views on this are quite mixed. It is inevitable that Sir Alex will need to walk away at some point. Most United supporters have always assumed he would just die on the sidelines following a win in some grand majestic moment that equals his own legend.
The last time that he announced his retirement back in 2002, it didn’t work out so well. United limped through the season before he changed his mind halfway through and has not looked back since. There has been some speculation earlier in the year that this might be it for him, but this wasn’t ever anything discussed as much as this time around. I would say that this is due to the timing. This time it makes sense.
Manchester United has just won their 20th League title, their 13th Premier League title (Sir Alex’s 13th as well). They still have two matches left to play, but neither is an important one. He has set up the team with a mix of young and veteran players that could be taken over by a new manager and built upon.
David Moyes could be a good manager for United. He has shown that he can be loyal and last in a managerial role. He is also a pal of Sir Alex and that is something that will need to be a requirement for the job. The problem is that he is unproven when it comes to managing a big club. He has one season of experience in the Champions League and were knocked out in the qualifying stages. He has taken Everton to the UEFA Cup three times and Europa League once, but not made much of any impact there either. The closest he’s come to winning anything is losing to Chelsea in the 2009 FA Cup Final.
Jose Mourinho’s CV is long and decorated. There is no doubt that he is extremely qualified and another pal of Sir Alex’s to boot. The problem with Mourinho is that he doesn’t know how to last with a club, or how to leave for that matter. He tends to spend 2-3 years at a club winning as much as possible while building up his ego before slashing and burning everything and everyone around him on his way out. I have a hard time seeing him being a good long term fit at United. If there is one thing that Sir Alex has always concerned himself with, it is Manchester United and the good of the club. It is hard to see Mourinho being good for the club in any long term fashion.
I do think it would be good to bring someone in short term as a sort of interim manager. There needs to be somebody else that comes in following Sir Alex that can be a sort of lightning rod for the attention of being his predecessor. In that sense, Mourinho might be the best candidate, but if so, then who would follow him?
I think it would be great to give the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Gary Neville a few years of coaching experience and get them into the role at United. Sir Alex will certainly be at the club in some capacity and having legendary ex-players who could become legendary managers would be fitting. Solskjaer might be the best fit and Neville would do well as a coach more so than a manager.
Solskjaer has already begun to develop his CV, first at United with the reserve team and more recently with Molde FK of the Norwegian League. With Molde he has lead them to back to back league championships in 2011 and 2012.
Of course, all of this is purely speculation until there is an actual announcement. Until Sir Alex retires he is still the Gaffer at United. When he does retire, that will become the time when the real rumors begin to fly. There are many other names that could be linked from Rafa Benitez to Jurgen Klopp or even, *gasp,* Arsene Wenger.
What do you think of this rumor? Who would you want to see as United manager? Who would you predict will become the next United manager?