LONDON, England, May 08 – Everton’s David Moyes emerged as the early front-runner to replace Alex Ferguson as manager at Manchester United after his fellow Scot announced Wednesday he was retiring as boss of the English giants.
Moyes, linked to the Old Trafford vacancy by British media reports, has long been spoken of with admiration by Ferguson for his work on a tight budget at Everton but has not won a major trophy since taking charge of the Liverpool-based club in 2002.
Other candidates for one of the most high-profile posts in world football include Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who established a friendly rivalry with Ferguson when in charge of Chelsea and has made no secret of his desire to return to England.
“It’s got to be someone with a massive character,” said former United and England midfielder Paul Ince. “It has got to be someone who can deal with what it takes to be a Manchester United manager.
“Whoever comes in to replace him is going to have to deal with the Man United legacy.”
Ince said the announcement that Ferguson would be staying at Old Trafford as a director and club ambassador could have a destabilising effect on his successor.
“It can have its advantages and disadvantages. Replacing Alex Ferguson is such a massive, massive job. Whoever goes in will need the help of Alex Ferguson,” he said.
“Whoever comes in if it doesn’t go well you’ve got Sir Alex Ferguson upstairs and it can put added pressure on you.”
The club made no reference to a successor in its statement announcing Ferguson’s departure.
For United fans, the precedent for Ferguson’s decision to maintain an Old Trafford role is not encouraging.
When Ferguson’s fellow Scottish managerial great Matt Busby, who took United to their first European Cup title in 1968, retired he remained as ‘general manger’ only for both Wilf McGuinness and Frank O’Farrell to come and go before the club were dramatically relegated to English football’s second tier in 1974.