Football: Old Trafford Considers the Continental
Townsend, Nick, The Independent (London, England)
HE WAS to be found this week pursuing his second best-loved sport on the Roodeye, Chester's charming racecourse. In the coming month, word has it that his rasping vowels may be heard in expressions of support for candidates bearing Labour's red silks on the hustings.
Few doubt that both the Turf and politics may gain Sir Alex Ferguson's attention all the more - dare we suggest that Lord Ferguson of Govan could be on a certain prime minister's mind? - once he retires next year from the daily responsibility of maintaining Manchester United as Britain's premier club.
His legacy is inestimable, but with the loss of that patriarchal figure (albeit he may stay on in a capacity involving youth development), there will exist serious potential for decline. There are many who recall the moment when Sir Matt Busby retired and became general manager in 1969 and the years, some of them turbulent, that followed - notably the relegation to the Second Division.
Would anyone seriously want to trade places with chief executive Peter Kenyon and the United board as they formulate their plan for United's future? Just as pertinently, it is worth asking who would actually want to replace Ferguson. As the man once said himself: "There are 91 managers who think they'd love my job - until they got it."
Candidates, the coy and the candid, will not be unforthcoming for the following vacancy: Manager required for one of world's leading football clubs. Salary: (virtually) no barrier to the right man. Successful applicant must be prepared to suffer in comparison to predecessor. Occasional bouts of belligerence and refusal to suffer fools gladly may be considered virtues.
From the viewpoint of continuity, an inside appointment would involve least upheaval, and Steve McClaren, Ferguson's assistant, would have a better idea than anyone of what the job entails. A contemplative and astute tactician, the former Derby coach does not lack ambition. …