Sir Alex Wanted Guardiola To Replace Him

Sir Alex

By Andy Hyslop

  • Pep Guardiola was Sir Alex first choice to replace him
  • David Moyes ended up replacing Sir Alex but how far down the list was he?

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Pep Guardiola was his first choice to him as Manchester United manager. Unfortunately the Spaniard had already agreed to take over at Bayern Munich.

Pep No.1 Choice

In his new book on management; Leading. Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed his first choice to replace him at the helm at Old Trafford was Pep Guardiola. Ferguson and Guardiola met in New York when Ferguson was enjoying a brief holiday in the City in September 2012. Guardiola was enjoying a sabbatical in the States following his spell as Barcelona coach.

Four months after that meeting Guardiola agreed to replace Jupp Heynckes as the head coach of Bayern Munich at the end of the 2012/13 season. So by the time Sir Alex had decided to retire his number one target was unavailable.

I asked Pep to phone me before he accepted an offer from another club but he didn’t and wound up joining Bayern Munich in July 2013

Who Were The Other Candidates?

Once Sir Alex decided to retire, the United board had the job of finding the man to replace him. It seems a number of their targets were unavailable. Jose Mourinho had already the return to Chelsea despite reports to contrary. It became apparent the Mourinho would leave Madrid at the end of the 2012/13 season but it appears he had already agreed a deal with Chelsea.

Other alternatives such as Louis Van Gaal, Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti were seen as unattainable. Van Gaal had taken the Dutch national team job and lead them to the 2014 World Cup semi-finals before eventually arriving at Old Trafford. While Klopp was happy at Borussia Dortmund and on the verge of signing a new contract; while Ancelotti was on his way to Real Madrid, replacing Mourinho.

It became apparent that Jose Mourinho had given his word to Roman Abramovich that he would return to Chelsea, and that Carlo Ancelotti would succeed him at Real Madrid

We also knew that Jürgen Klopp was happy at Borussia Dortmund and would be signing a new contract. Meantime, Louis van Gaal had undertaken to lead the Dutch attempt to win the 2014 World Cup.

So United eventually decided on David Moyes as the successor to Sir Alex. He didn’t even last a season in the job as United struggled and would eventually finish 7th in the Premier League, a year after being Champions. Sir Alex believes that given his time again, Moyes might have done thing s differently.

When Moyes arrived he brought all his own staff and allowed the majority of the coaches that worked under Ferguson. This may have been a mistake by Moyes. Sir Alex believes keeping people such as Mike Phelan at the club, may have helped make the transition easier. Phelan is someone who had been at United for a number of years as both a player and coach.

I’m sure there are things that David would do differently if he had the opportunity to relive his time at Old Trafford.

Such as keeping Mick Phelan, who would have been the invaluable guide to the many layers of the club that Ryan Giggs is to Louis Van Gaal today.

There is no point suddenly changing routines that players are comfortable with. It is counterproductive, saps morale and immediately provokes players to question the new man’s motives. A leader who arrives in a new setting, or inherits a big role, needs to curb the impulse to display his manhood.


About Andrew Hyslop 398 Articles

Creator of Sir Alex Ferguson Way and writer of football books

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