Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed at Old Trafford 369 days before I was born, meaning that for me – and for many of my generation – the thought of United without Fergie is simply unthinkable, for he’s been in charge throughout my first quarter of a century.
However, sooner or later, even the man from Govan will step aside, leaving an unmatchable legacy behind him and United looking for a new manager. Over the years the pool of names of potential successors has shrunk considerably, with some of the candidates already retired, others no longer considered suitable options and, perhaps more importantly, Fergie’s unwavering desire to win making it really difficult for anybody to individuate a successor.
Pep Guardiola’s decision to export his tiki-taka to the Allianz Arena ruled one of the candidate out of the race, while Jose Mourinho’s “come and get me” plea to Roman Abramovich doesn’t bode well for the theory that wants the self-proclaimed Special One taking over from the real Special One.
David Moyes remains an option worth considering but, despite his proven record in developing youngsters and managing tight budgets, the Scotsman seemed to have fallen off the radar somewhat. Undoubtedly, Moyes has done really well at Everton, but he’s still to win a trophy and for all of his financial acumen when lacking funds, there’s no actual proof of how well he’d fare when given a sizeable budget.
There’s, however, a new name circulating. A manager who has developed a style for attacking football and who’s not afraid of throwing promising youngsters at the deep end of the pool. Jurgen Klopp might have surged to popularity in recent weeks thanks to Dortmund’s superb run to the Champions League final but the 45-year-old German has seen his stock rising over the last couple of years, since he took Mainz to their first appearance in the Bundesliga, and then UEFA Cup qualification in the 2005-06 season.
Fergie had tipped Dortmund as a possible dark horse for European glory this season, having been hugely impressed with the way Dortmund stormed to two consecutive league titles (and a German cup) under Klopp’s tutelage, a significant indication of how highly he regards the German manager.
Klopp would be an ideal candidate to replace Fergie. Young, committed – he stayed with Mainz even after they were relegated – and with an eye for talent and attacking football are by many considered to be quintessential qualities for a United manager, hence way some opposed the idea of Mourinho replacing Sir Alex.
Drawing comparisons between teams 20-years apart from each other is always a dangerous exercise, but Klopp’s Dortmund has a lot in common with United in the mid 90s – emphasis on attacking football, exciting young talents (Gotze, Gundogan, Hummels and the class of ’92) – and it’d be extremely naive to dismiss such similarities as a simple coincidence.
Granted, Fergie has no intentions to retire anytime soon – particularly considering that he wants at least another shot at European glory – but when day will eventually arrive, don’t bet against the prospect of Klopp becoming United’s first non-British manager.
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Tags: Transfer Stories