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Fergie: It won't be mission impossible

fergusonALEX FERGUSON believes it is nonsense to say his successor is facing an impossible job.

The perceived wisdom is that the next man in at Old Trafford will have a nightmare trying to follow on from the all-conquering boss and that his stay could be shortlived.

However, Ferguson insists it will be a dream for his successor, with everything at the club set up for success.

He said: "With the structure we have here, it can’t be an impossible job. What more could you want?”

Having said that, Ferguson believes the biggest mistake his successor could make is changing himself to fit Manchester United.

Despite the manager’s own incredible success in bringing 37 trophies through the doors, he believes the new man in any managerial job must stamp his own mark on the club.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview in today’s brand new twentyfour7 Football magazine, Ferguson said: "Imagination is always important. The other most important thing is don’t change who you are.

"It happens, you see it time and time again, a manager comes in and tries to change himself.

"Your job is not to change you, it’s to change what you’re taking over. Change the team, the philosophy of a football club to your philosophy. Never change who you are.

"That really will hold you in good stead, simply because the players understand what you are, who you are.”

Not that much will need changing or fixing at Old Trafford, with Ferguson determined to leave a set-up that will ensure his legacy is the continued success of the club. He believes part of that is keeping people who know what United is all about.

Former players like Brian McClair coach the reserves, while Mike Phelan is his assistant manager. Now Ferguson is drafting in a new generation.

The Scot said: "Looking at my present crop, it’s difficult, but the likes of Giggs and Scholes will be part of the structure here. Darren Fletcher in the long term possibly and Nicky Butt is with the reserves.

"We try to get as many former players in the set-up as we can, we’ve got a good back-up.

"We look ahead because that is succession planning in terms of structure — they’ve the experience of being at the club, being a player here, knowing what it takes to be a winner.

"It’s good to have it here, keep it within the club.” It is true Ferguson will leave a very different United from the one he took over in 1986. He had to wake not so much a sleeping giant but one that had been in a near coma. No title for 19 years, a dilapidated ground, no youth structure.

Old Trafford itself is a monument to his success and, rightly, now a statue looks down from the back of the stand also named in his honour.

The club’s training complex in Carrington is one of the best in football and a world away from The Cliff, where he first began plotting to knock the then-dominant force of Liverpool off their perch.

It was there he also started laying the foundations for players to come through the United ranks.

What was also different to now is that Ferguson was given time to make all his plans work. Remember, it took seven years for him to lift the title.

It is doubtful a new boss at Old Trafford would be given half that time. But, then again, as Ferguson himself points out, look at what he has to work with.

The 71-year-old has always been determined to leave his successor with all the tools to keep the Red Machine in full flow.

This current squad with its youth and experience would certainly be a dream to inherit if Ferguson went this summer. The question is... who is the man?

It seemed six months ago that Pep Guardiola was primed but he was impatient and took the chance to take over at Bayern Munich instead.

Ferguson’s friend Jose Mourinho is another obvious candidate and he is likely to be leaving Real Madrid in the summer.

But he is not that highly favoured in the United boardroom, with Sir Bobby Charlton in particular not keen on the Special One’s persona.

Everton’s David Moyes is very well thought of and seen by many at United as a steady hand to keep all aspects of the club ticking over.

Whoever it is, the task is the most daunting in football. But impossible?

While the set-up is there, it has still taken the incredible management of Ferguson to make sure that the club has moved with the times, accepted every challenge and stayed ahead of the pack.

In that sense following him will be very difficult — but not impossible.

Who could be the next Man Utd manager?

Pep Guardiola

PEP GUARDIOLA Heading to Bayern Munich at the end of the season but could be the ideal candidate when Fergie eventually hangs up his tracksuit.

Glittering spell at Barcelona included three La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns. Can handle the biggest stars in the world.

Jose Mourinho

JOSE MOURINHO The Special One has won trophies all over Europe starting with Porto in Portugal.

Back-to-back Premier League titles with Chelsea were followed by Inter Milan’s 2010 Champions League success. Pipped Barca to the Spanish title last season with Real Madrid.

David Moyes

DAVID MOYES Has built reputation as a top British manager during 11 years at Everton.

Took them into Champions League and is in the hunt for another top-four Prem finish this season. The 49-year-old would command respect from squad.

Jupp Heynckes

JUPP HEYNCKES WON Champions League with Madrid in 1998 and now in second spell at Bayern Munich.

The 67-year-old has powerful but attractive side — as Arsenal discovered. Due to retire this summer when Guardiola takes his job — but United post would surely change his mind.

Jurgen Klopp

JURGEN KLOPP ONE of the most promising managers in Europe following his work at Borussia Dortmund in the past five years.

Has won the Bundesliga in the last two seasons - and that has seen him linked with the Chelsea job.
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