As Sir Alex Ferguson takes charge for the final time we muse on what might have been should Sven-Goran Eriksson got the job in 2002.
Today Manchester United take on West Brom at The Hawthorns in what will be an historic day remembered simply for one man; Sir Alex Ferguson.
The great Scot retires from football management this weekend and in typical Sir Alex fashion he does so in style; in his 1500th game in the dugout.
Of course he is forever going to be synonymous with Manchester United; the club which he transformed back into the great club they are now. He has rejuvenated this team from top to bottom and it all could have been so different had he not performed a dramatic U-turn 11 years ago when he decided to rescind his original retirement decision back in 2002.
Since then the club have gone on to claim several more trophies including taking their League championship tally above Liverpool’s record to 20 and another European Cup triumph to add to his collection.
But what could have been if he left that year will perplex many of you; as Sven Goran Eriksson was lined up to take over at Old Trafford.
Yes Sven at the Theatre of Dreams and in case you think I am dreaming here is what United’s ex-chairman Martin Edwards had to say about it:
“Alex had made the decision that he wanted to go at the end of the 2001-02 season. I was still chairman at the time and the board’s choice was to go for Sven Goran Eriksson. We were a long way down the road with those negotiations.’’
The Swede was at that time still the manager of the England national team but just imagine what would have happened post Fergie if Sven had taken over.
I think we can almost guarantee that he would never have sold David Beckham; meanwhile the sight of Emile Heskey in a United shirt sends shivers down the spine. Both were favourites of the former Lazio supremo.
Pretty certain is that he would never have made it past the quarter-finals of a major competition. That’s if he would have got the chance; Steve McClaren would probably have succeeded Sven when he was suspended by the club for an apparent affair with TV personality Ulrika Jonsson in 2002.
When you consider that since that time Fergie has remained at the top while Sven now finds himself the technical director of United Arab Emirates side Al-Nasr via stints with Manchester City, Mexico, Notts County, Ivory Coast, Leicester and Thai outfit Tero Sasana you really start to grasp just how important Sir Alex is to Manchester United football club; and the incredible boots David Moyes has to try to fill.
image: © Doha Stadium Plus