Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy at Manchester United will remain regardless of how his former team fair this evening against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, but the Spanish coach's emergence as probably the best coach in the world may give clues as to David Moyes’ career at Old Trafford.
Ferguson retired at the end of the Red Devils’ title-winning season in the Premier League last term, regarded as one of the best British managers of all time along with the greats of Sir Matt Busby, Bill Shankley, Bob Paisley, Sir Bobby Robson and Brian Clough. Moyes may well go on to become a great but, in his first season in charge of the champions, it is abundantly clear he has a long way to go yet.
Ferguson chose his fellow Scot for the work he had achieved with Everton over the course of 11 years in the Premier League, but Moyes is not a former Manchester United player.
Guardiola spoke in his meetings with the press this week ahead of the clash at Old Trafford of his respect for and relationship with Ferguson, who he claims never asked him to take the job at United to succeed him.
Whether or not Ferguson ever considered Guardiola we may never know but, regardless, a coach in that template may have been something the Scot considered.
Guardiola began his coaching career in charge of Barcelona B back in 2007, at the reserve or feeder team of Barcelona where he spent 18 years as a player, developing in the La Masia academy from the age of 12 until he was 30 years of age and considered an icon and hailed as one of the best midfielders of his generation.
He won no less than six La Liga title with the Catalans, two Copa del Rey’s and the European Cup in his playing career, and went on to win the Tercera Division title with the B team in his first season in charge in 2007/08.
In a matter of months he was the Barcelona boss and went on to win three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey’s, three Supercopa de Espana titles, two Champions League titles, two UEFA Super Cup’s and two FIFA Club World Cup titles before stepping down from his post after four years.
Guardiola was developed and raised by the club, nurtured and grown as a player and then as a coach, a legend and a hero for Barca. The equivalent at United are players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers – the Class of ’92 graduates – and while they are young and inexperienced, there were also experienced coaches in the form of Mike Phelan and Eric Steele who have since been replaced.
If Ferguson wanted to maintain his legacy, he perhaps should have looked at the Barcelona model for success – they bring managers up through the ranks and promote from within in much the same manner they do with players. Manchester United have a rich history of promoting from within and I’m surprised Ferguson didn’t apply that same winning formulae with his choice of coach to replace him.
Managers like Steve Bruce and even Roy Keane would have fit that mould of club legends, even though they didn’t start their careers at Old Trafford. Warren Joyce has been the manager of the youth academy for eight years, and Paul McGuiness is a former academy graduate and United player since the age of 16 who has been managing the U18’s for nine years. Why not one of them?
The chance taken on the ‘Chosen One’ has yet to pay off but Moyes may well be successful with United in the long run, we will have to wait and see. But I am surprised Sir Alex Ferguson did not look at one of the best coaches in the world in Guardiola – not as a prospective successor but as a template for success at Manchester United.