The biggest question now is who is the man required to carry on his legacy.
Source: Graeme Bandeira
In the previous article the focus was on Man Utd and their future. It was argued that perhaps in the past four years, United have gradually being declining, the gap between them and the best which appeared only a crack has now become a vast divide. The great powers of Barca, Madrid and Bayern appear more suited to the modern game and possess much better players than United. With teams like Milan, Dortmund and of course Man City on the rise, does the future appear all doom and gloom or are United, as always, going to prove the doubters wrong. The key point about it all was who will replace the legend Alex Ferguson, who without, United would not have been winning titles and reaching finals with the team assembled.
In the ever changing world of football, where the length of a career is never defined and the line between success and failure can be so fine, there are not many who have transcended the decades and ever changing face of a sport like football like Alex Ferguson. He must be regarded as ons of the best ever, he has created a dynasty, one which has never showed serious signs of faltering, only perhaps when in transition. Whenever people question Sir Alex, he answers those doubters with titles and cups. He has an understanding of the changes of football and of what is required for the present and the future. The biggest question now that he must answer is who is the man required to carry on his legacy.
Who is the man to replace the legend?
Many names have been touted in the last several years, men who have accomplished major things in world football, yet as Chelsea have found out, regardless of the money, it is not so easy to get the right man. The job at Old Trafford is arguably one of the biggest roles in football and it requires a man of determination and resilience, with the ability to deal under the grandest of pressures.
What is required of a top coach in world football today; they are psychologists, motivationists, tacticians, teachers. Who has these abilities and pedigree to justify working with a team of United’s statue? Martin O’Neill has been mentioned in recent years, yet he is a man who has no experience of coaching a top team, sorry, but Celtic don’t count on the grand scale of world football. Sven was the heir apparent when Ferguson contemplated retiring in 2002, imagine what the future would have been then. Fabio Capello has shown to be capable of winning things, and is currently out of work, yet is he too defensive for a team like United. His unattactive style suited Italy yet was the reason he left Madrid even after winning the league.
There appears to be a belief that the “Special one”, Jose Mourinho, is the ideal man for the job, the only one who has the ego and ability to deal with this high pressure job. I disagree though. Jose Mourinho is a coach who does not wish to stay for the long term; he is a collector of trophies, moving from one high profile to another every several years. He bases his management on buying players who are effective for the league he his in. He is very successful at making his players believe in his system and he makes them winners. But, he does this with a team, not the club, he makes a group of players winners, but he does not plan for the future. He does not plan for the future as he has no need to.
He is consumed by a selfish desire to be the best manager, yet he has not been able to create a legacy, a dynasty at any of his previous clubs. With Chelsea and Inter success has been followed by serious decline, off the pitch issues and players who have past their best. In all accounts, sustainability has been the one thing missing from his career. Madrid may go and win the league and possibly even the Champions League, scoring more goals in a season than any team in Spain before, this is all very impressive, yet there appears to be something lacking with this side; they are not on the same level to Barcelona and this reflects in their head to head games. You may argue that Barca at better than Madrid, yet their is so much talent in that Madrid side that they should be doing better against their rivals. Mourinho though has been out thought by his old coach and since his arrival at Madrid, he has shown his deficiences when playing against the best.
Psychologically Mourinho has come across as vindictive in his time at Madrid, being outplayed and out witted tactically by Guardiola. He appears petulant as he moans about referess. He appears to be exhaust his allies and the media in all the countries he works in, they find him fascinating yet tiresome. I cannot doubt his quality, yet there are certain issues with him that don't suit him for the job at Old Trafford. Ironically, he is suited more to their neighbours and I believe this is where his future lies.
Many believe that Ferguson may choose one his own, yet none of his ex players have really cut it in management. He was a winner when he arrived at United and took Aberdeen to amazing heights, and so far I haven't seen Bruce, Ince, Robson or Hughes do anything of worth in their managerial careers to warrant a place in the hot seat at Old Trafford. Perhaps it may be the super sub, Ole Solskjaer who could be manager material, he coached at United after he retired and won the league in Norway with Molde. I beleive he would be an ideal assistant for Ferguson next season, with him being groomed for the manager's job. Yet it will be too soon for him to fill into this role, it will need a man who will gain instant respect and adulation, a man who has been successful and worked with the best, a man who is capable of stepping into the role without the feeling of unease for such a big job. One man has done it already. The only man capable is Josep Guardiola.
The only man for the job
In my opinion there is only one man capable of taking over from Alex Ferguson, a man who has a history of winning titles and cups and a man who has his teams playing winning, attacking football.
Guardiola has shown in the past four years that he has all the attributes necessary of coaching a successful team and managing top quality players to put the team first, something Ferguson has always done so well. His brand of attacking football is regarded as the best there has ever been. He understands what is required and is able to get his message across. All those who work with him explain how well he teaches them and explains his methods, he convinces them and performances and success would show his message get's across. His name is synonymous with success, quality and class and he will have the draw of players all over the world willing to play for him. His multi lingual ability will enable him to communicate with the globalised world of players that are now a part of the English league.
It can be argued that Guardiola may actually be needed at United, where the 4-4-2 is still commonly used even though the modern game requires players through the units, the 4-3-3 showing how effective it can be in defence as well as attack. His impressive tactical brain and ability to alter aspects through the game appears to come from his time in Italy. Guardiola blends the styles and tactics and Spain and Italy and with his high tempo attacking play he has the potential to light the English league up where pressing and attacking is the bench mark of the league. United have been found out in times of the last few years, especially in Europe, and this may be through Ferguson's tactically limits. Guardiola has shown he can alter tactics and prepare his sides with such precision that it has led to such success at the Camp Nou.
Above all, what makes Guardiola the perfect man to take over at the theatre of dreams is his trust and desire to develop youth through the Academy. One of Ferguson’s most important legacies is the players that he brings through, you cannot say that about Mourinho and I struggle to believe that Ferguson, who will undoubtedly have the option of who to take on, will choose a man who neglects products of the Academy so readily. Guardiola has brought through 25 players from the La Masia Academy in his time with Barca, he is an avid believer in that youth players, developed with the love of the club with the team’s philosophy ingrained into them, will be more valuable to the team.
There aren't many jobs bigger than Barcelona, yet United may be up there and I believe he would be the ideal replacement for Ferguson. He has been linked with Chelsea, Arsenal, Inter and I am sure every club would want him, yet none is a better fit than United, where the history is so glittered and the world acclaim of the side is so strong.
After being beaten twice by Guardiola I am in no doubt that Ferguson looked across to his foe and believed that he was looking at a man who stood for everything he did; passion, dedication, high principles and a love for attacking football. With the life span of Spanish coaches being no more than three or four years, Pep knows he is coming to the end of a most glittering career at the Camp Nou. He has spoken of wanting to coach in England yet wants to take a sabbatical to spend more time with his family. So it is not hard to believe that when Ferguson ends his time in the summer of 2013, Pep will be waiting in the wings to be unveiled, Alex’s last gift to the club, safe in the knowledge that Pep will continue his traditions of playing with style and winning trophies.