10 of Sir Alex Ferguson’s management proteges
After Roy Keane’s exit, we rate Fergie’s players-turned-managers
1. Roy Keane
Still young enough for another crack of the whip or ten but the early evidence suggests that he is not cut out for management. The rumours suggest the mellowed out persona of Keane the manager was a façade hiding a very unsettled personality.
Management rating: 3/10
2. Paul Ince
Took the lower leagues by storm with MK Dons, but is widely tipped to follow Keane to the dole queue following Blackburn Rovers’ poor run of form. Rovers fans were calling for his head this week and rumours abound of secret board discussions about how long the Guvnor can be given to turn the situation around.
3. Bryan Robson
Made a promising start to his management career with Middlesbrough, but has struggled in successive jobs at Bradford City, West Brom and Sheffield United. Indeed, he led both the Bantams and the Baggies to relegation. His new ambassadorial role at Manchester United suggests he has turned his back on managing.
4. Steve Bruce
Had a torrid start to life in management. He resigned from his first job with Sheffield United after one season following disputes with the board, he was sacked in his second season with Huddersfield Town, resigned after a month at Wigan and quit Crystal Palace after six months. He rebuilt his career at Birmingham where he twice got the club promoted to the Premier League during his six years in charge. After avoiding relegation on his return to Wigan, Bruce appears to be guiding the Latics back to mid-table safety.
5. Mark Hughes
Took an unusual route into management by starting out in international football with Wales. He transformed his national side into a decent outfit during his time in charge. He quit to take charge of Blackburn Rovers in 2004 and won plaudits for building a very competitive side on a relatively small budget. The jury is still out on how he will cope with Manchester City’s considerably larger budget.
6. Gordon Strachan
Spent his early days in management battling against the inevitable by attempting to keep Coventry City in the Premier League. He managed this task for four seasons, but was sacked when the Sky Blues eventually went down. He then revitalised another team teetering on the brink by taking Southampton to the safety of mid-table, the FA Cup final and European football. He resigned to spend more time with his family in 2004, returning just over a year later to take charge at Celtic. The occasional European disappointment with the Bhoys has been more than made up for by three consecutive SPL titles.
7. Laurent Blanc
Past his best when Ferguson signed him as a player, but seems to have picked up some handy pointers from his old boss. Led Bordeaux to Champions League qualification in his first season in charge and his side are currently well-placed to mount another challenge this season.
8. Darren Ferguson
It seems Ferguson Jnr is a chip off the old block at present. He gained promotion from League Two in his debut season with Peterborough, and the side are currently sitting in the League One play-off positions.
9. Chris Casper
After injury cut short his career at the age of 24, Casper was thrust into coaching at an early age and took the leap into Football League management with Bury in 2005 at the age of 30. He was sacked in January 2008 and is now back out of the firing line as Bradford City’s youth coach. Expect him to be back in a hot seat in the future.
10. Alex McLeish
One of Fergie’s star players at Aberdeen and someone he wanted to bring to Old Trafford. Struggled in his first job at Motherwell, but cut his managerial teeth at Hibernian. A four-and-a-half year stint at Rangers was full of highs and lows with supporters calling for McLeish’s head as often as they were celebrating trophy wins. McLeish then enjoyed a hugely successful spell as Scotland manager – leaving with a 70 per cent win rate – before guiding Birmingham City to relegation last season.