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The top contenders for the hot seat at Manchester United

Top 5 / Top 10
1.77K   //    13 Dec 2012, 20:21 IST

After 26 long and eventful years at the helm, Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted at retirement in the past few years. However, it has indeed not been an easy decision to make for the veteran as his passion and love for both the game and the club has kept the 71 year-old Scot in the thick of action for the best part of the 1990′s and up till now.

It must also be noted that this will not be the first time that Sir Alex has threatened to retire from the club. His shocking statement stating that he would retire at the end of the 2001-02 season saw the club finish 3rd in the League, a result they were not used to. He however, made a U-turn and stayed as manager by signing a 3 year contract with the club, a move which has still kept him at the club.

He weaved his magic in the treble winning season of 1998-99, something even his mentor the great Matt Busby couldn’t come close to doing. In November 2012, his statue was erected by the club, at the entrance of the ‘Sir Alex Ferguson Stand’. This move, to many fans and ex-club players, is interpreted as a probable retiring memento for the man who has given so much not only for the club, but also for the game, which he has made a great contribution.

Now, the Manchester United bigwigs have the next-to-impossible task of replacing him, should he retire this year. Here is a peek at the future for Manchester United.

1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer


1. He is an ex-player who saw out his career with Manchester United.

2. He is a favorite among fans and is well respected and loved.


3. Knows the club better than anyone else, as opposed to any outside prospects.

4. His success with the youth team will only make him all the more popular in the club.

5. He has the full backing of Sir Alex and the Manchester United board.

6. He already has achieved success at Molde and with 2 titles in 2 seasons, he is the clear favourite for succeeding Ferguson at the helm.

7. He is still young and innovative and might just induce the flair and the energy to pump the club to higher glory.

8. He is generally known to be a cool headed customer and can keep his cool in the worst of situations and can be trusted to keep his composure, unlike other managers.


1. He is relatively inexperienced compared to the other candidates vying for the job.

2. He is, at the moment,  probably overconfident after winning 2 successive titles with Molde; a trait that United might want him to shed.

3. Although he has tasted success in the reserves and youth leagues and cups, he has had absolutely no exposure to the Premier League and the difficulties that a common manager faces.

2. Pep Guardiola


1. Has held multiple championships, cups and titles with Barcelona.

2. His familarity with Ferguson also improves his chances, with Ferguson stating that he would like for Guardiola to take charge of the club in Ferguson’s absence.

3. His involvement with the youth system and his faith in young players is something he shares with Ferguson.

4. His involvement in the games and the fact that he expects the best from his players, improves his chances.

5. He can think differently and make plays based on the players’ ability.

6. His knack to stay away from controversies will prove handy.

7. Is a calm customer and does things his own way without the influence of anyone else.

8. Is young and innovative.

9. He has many awards to his name, including the FIFA World Coach of the year with 42% of the votes, finishing on top ahead of Sir Alex with 16% of the votes in his favour.


1. He has never coached a Premier League team and hence does not know what to expect.

2. His controversies in the Champions League and other European fixtures leave a stain, even though he has tried to play them down.

3. He is not known to develop a player physically, and only develops them based on skill, which is simply not enough in the EPL.

4. He was at the center of the ‘diving’ scandal in Europe, where his side was proven to have dived to have referee decisions go their way.

3. Jose Mourinho


1. He is credited as one of the best managers/coaches in the world.

2. Unlike Solskjaer and Guardiola, Mourinho has experience in the EPL, having tasted success with Chelsea.

3. Has been heavily linked with the club and has explicitly shown his desire to make a move to United despite renewing his contract with Spanish giants Real Madrid.

4. He has the best win-loss record for any manager at home in Europe in Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid put together.

5. He is known to be a shrewd task-master and is always known to get the job done.

6.  Has a keen eye for talent and always spots the best most of the time.

7. He is known to be popular among players and fans.

8. He never gives up and never stops chasing, a trait he shares with Sir Alex – a trait that will stack the odds in his favour.


1. Is known to be hot headed and loses his temper easily.

2. He is already an infamous press conference bug and mostly uses it to either play mind games or sarcastically make comments to offend other teams.

3. He is known never to have signed long-term contracts with clubs, questioning his commitment to the respective club.

4. Causes a lot of controversies based on petty matters and has been banned by Spanish and the English FA’s as well as the UEFA.

5. Is known to to be a heavy spender during transfer windows.

6. Is shunned by the public due to various actions and infamous incidents that occurred with his time at Chelsea.

Special Mention

Mike Phelan

The Manchester United assistant coach poses as a strong candidate, simply because he is familiar with the Ferguson method of coaching. If David Gill were to reconsider his options of having continuity in the club, Phelan would definitely make the cut. Apart from the familiarity with the club, the tactics and the players, like Solskjaer, Phelan too is a ex-United player and is used to the Premier League style of football. He is often seen on the touchline giving instructions to players, something the managers do themselves. He could be appointed in the interim, with the only concern being the fact that he is a coach and not a manager, a trend that has not boded well this season given the fates of Steve Kean and Brian McDermott.

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