As soon as the news broke that Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring at the end of this season, the tributes started flooding in.
I, along with millions of football and sport fans around the world, have been a huge admirer of what Fergie has achieved in his long and illustrious career.
The bulging trophy cabinet at Old Trafford speaks for itself. What’s more impressive than the silverware is the way Fergie has been able to keep United at the top of not only the English pile, but world football over the course of two decades.
No matter the challenge, he was able to adapt, rebuild, regenerate and remain on top.
People thought he could never get rid of the likes of David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam and Roy Keane without an inevitable dip. Each time he was able to take the team forward and keep it at the top, compensating for the departed stars with new talents like Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
Even when the big money men started to re-shape the landscape of English football, Fergie was able to stay on top and when he did lose the odd title, he would always bounce back.
With Fergie calling time, attention has inevitably turned to who will replace him. The three main candidates being circulated are Everton’s David Moyes, Borussia Dortmund man-manager extraordinaire Jurgen Klopp and trophy-hunter Jose Mourinho.
Here’s what I think of the contenders:
I just don’t get this one. Moyes has firmed as the favourite and according to rumours, will be appointed within 24 hours. The Everton boss may have done a fantastic job at the Toffees, but the demands and pressure that come with the Manchester United gig are very different.
At Everton, a top six finish is the mark of a great season. At United, nothing less than the title will do. The pressure is there to win every game. Moyes has never been in this position. I can’t see Moyes coming straight in and adapting to the extremely high standard of the UEFA Champions League.
I’m not sure whether his style of play will be suited to United and certainly not Europe. There are too many unknowns surrounding Moyes, who I see as the biggest risk of the three.
The Borussia Dortmund boss would certainly be an exciting appointment. Klopp has a great personality and his football is fast, entertaining, intense and effective.
Klopp has proved he can build a team, integrate youth and work with the big stars like Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels.
Klopp has adapted to Europe and in only his second UCL campaign, guided his team to the final this season.
Klopp has the charm and charisma off the field and the tactical nous on it to be a hit in the Premier League.
The only question mark is how he would adapt to coaching outside of Germany. We have seen many foreign coaches come into the EPL struggle to adapt as well as they would have liked.
Christian Gross at Tottenham, Felipe Scolari at Chelsea and Sven Goran Eriksson at City are a few names that come to mind. Klopp has all the traits to succeed at United and his colourful character would prove endearing to the English media.
Out of all the candidates the Special One fits the bill the best. Jose is a winner. He has the confidence and arrogance to succeed at the biggest clubs, which he has done, guiding FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid to domestic titles and winning the UCL with Inter and Porto. Mourinho is a trophy magnet who is renowned for his ability to engage with his players.
Mourinho is ‘loved in England’ and showed he can succeed there with Chelsea.
In the face of one of the most dominant club teams in modern football history – Barcelona – Mourinho has guided Real Madrid to the Spanish La Liga title last season and to three UCL semi-finals.
Mourinho and Ferguson share an unusual ‘bromance’, publicly complimenting each other on a number of occasions, and the Portuguese is keen to get out of Madrid. The chance to move to Manchester United would launch him right back to the top of the pile and a European collision course with his old rival Pep Guardiola, who takes the reins at Bayern Munich in a few weeks’ time.
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Philip Micallef is a football writer with almost 40 years of experience. He has worked for News Limited and now SBS. He is a long-time follower of AC Milan.
A journalist with decades of experience on TV and radio, Tony is an expert on all things Italian - including football.