After the not entirely unexpected announcement of the end of David Moyes’ reign as Manchester United manager today, a short-list has been drawn up of potential candidates for the job vacancy. There is no doubt Sir Alex Ferguson was going to be a difficult act to follow and, in the past, a similar vacuum existied after the retirement of another United management legend – Sir Matt Busby. Busby, like Ferguson, was promoted “upstairs” into the directors box and his presence there cast a long shadow over the efforts of the future incumbents in the dug out.
Just by way of remembering, what happened, it is worth summarising the events that followed Busby’s retirement and seeing how similar, thus far, they mirror Ferguson’s legacy :-
Busby (a club legend) retires and chooses his successor, Wilf McGuinness. Manchester honours Busby by naming a road after him.
McGuinness struggled in his new post, however, and Busby was convinced to return for the second half of the 1970–71 season but retired from football permanently that summer.
Busby succeeded that summer by Frank O’Farrell who’s stay was short-lived through his inability to control George Best’s extravagances forced the board to sack him with three years still to run on his contract and United languishing in the bottom half of the old First Division table.
O’Farrell’s replacement was to be Scotland coach, Tommy Docherty, and his first task at United was to keep the club in the top flight – which he did.
Manchester United were relegated in 1973–74 and the new team emerging was Liverpool, winning the league that year, as well as the old UEFA Cup. Liverpool would go on to a decade of dominance while Manchester United entered a period of decline and disappointment.
Manchester United bounced straight back up, as Division 2 champions
In their first season back in the top flight, United cruised to a third place finish and yet another FA Cup final – albeit beaten finalists.
Docherty went one better in 1977 when his United team beat Liverpool in the FA Cup Final to claim his first and only trophy at Old Trafford. It was soon discovered, however, that Docherty was having an affair with the wife of the club’s physiotherapist, and he was immediately fired, replaced by Queens Park Rangers’ manager Dave Sexton.
Sexton remained in the United job for four years, but was unable to produce any silverware, and was replaced in 1981 by Ron Atkinson.
Atkinson was able to rekindle the club’s cup success, leading his side to two FA Cups in his five-year tenure. He also oversaw a series of respectable finishes in the league, but after his disastrous start to the 1986–87 season, he was sacked
The most successful period in the history of Manchester United but not enough space to list them all here. At the end of the 2012-13 season, Ferguson (the new club legend) retires and chooses his successor, David Moyes. Like Busby before him, the City of Manchester names a road after him.
Moyes struggled in his new post and is sacked 4 games before the end of a disappointing season for a Manchester United club that has dominated both England and, arguably, Europe for almost 2 decades.
Now the three big questions re history repeating itself:
a) will Ferguson come back?
b) will United recruit Gordon Strachan – a former United icon and current Scotland manager?
c) what current United player will transfer to City and score the goal that relegates United into the Championship 4 years from now?
Vote for your favourite to succeed Moyes as Manchester United manager: