The managers who had the task of following Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United
Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to be a hard act to follow. Michael Carrick became the sixth manager United have appointed in nine and a half years.
Michael Carrick was ushered in to replace ousted manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and attempt to haul Manchester United back up. Solskjaer was handed his notice on Sunday following yesterday’s 4-1 defeat to Watford, the team’s fifth reverse in the last 10 matches. That has left them seventh in the table on 17 points, 12 behind leaders Chelsea - the team they are due to face next.
Carrick has been appointed on a temporary basis - like Solskjaer and Ryan Giggs were before him. All three are former players who know Old Trafford and the culture at United better than most but the club has struggled to emulate the kind of successes they enjoyed during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. During his 27 seasons at United, Sir Alex won 28 major trophies, including the Premier League 13 times. He remains the most successful manager of all-time in world football, so following him was always going to be an almost impossible task.
David Moyes 2013-14
Sir Alex stepped down and retired from coaching at the end of the 2012/13 season and another Scot came in to replace him. David Moyes had done well at Everton although was unable to deliver any silverware and was Ferguson’s own personal election for the job. He signed a six-year contract ahead of the 2013/14 season. He had a lot to live up to and a lot was expected from him. United comfortably beat Swansea on the opening day but after that, the team never got into any momentum. At one point they dropped to 12th in the table but spent most of the season in seventh, where they finished - it was the first time in 25 years that United had failed to qualify for Europe. That season Moyes’ team did make it to the quarter finals without much trouble but were knocked out by Bayern Munich. He was sacked in April 2015 after just 10 months in charge.
Ryan Giggs April 2014-May 2014
So United began the search for a new manager once again. Pep Guardiola had been linked with the position but he already had an agreement in place with Bayern. Ryan Giggs was still at the club and had only recently gained his UEFA Pro license, meaning he was able to coach a club at Premier League and Champions League level. The 39-year-old was brought in as a caretaker coach for the final four games of the season but wasn’t ready to deal with the pressure that goes with the job. The 1-1 draw away at Southampton was his final game in charge.
Louis van Gaal 2014-2016
The United board felt that they needed a more experienced manager and hired Dutch coach Louis van Gaal who had held posts at some of Europe’s elite clubs - Barcelona, Bayern and Ajax. He took over after the Brazil World Cup finals that summer with Giggs as his assistant. Van Gaal’s side took a while to get into their groove - their first win didn’t arrive until Week 4. But they managed to get some kind of consistency and with European football to distract them, spent the rest of the season in or around the top four and managed to secure one of the Champions League berths.
In 2015/16, United enjoyed a brighter start to the Premier League but their form tailed off and by January they were already out of the running. In the Champions League there was even less to cheer about - they finished their group in third and entered the Europa League, advancing just one round before being knocked out by eternal rivals, Liverpool. Off the field tensions were rising and Van Gaal’s days were numbered. The only highlight of his tenure was winning the FA Cup. Two days later he was given his marching orders.
Jose Mourinho 2016-2018
Within days of Van Gaal’s sacking, United appointed Jose Mourinho who had been out of working since leaving Chelsea a few months earlier. The club was believed to already have signed a pre-contract with The Special One, who committed a three-year contract. Sir Alex and Sir Bobby Charlton both voiced reservations about whether Mourinho was suitable for a club like United. Yet he turned out to be the most successful of Sir Alex’s successors. During his two and a half years at Old Trafford, Mourinho won three trophies - the Europa League, EFL Carabao Cup and Community Shield. He was also the closest to seeing out his contract - he was sacked after the team’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in December 2018.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 2018-2021
United appointed former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take over on an interim basis until the end of the season. He took over with the team in sixth and had an instant impact. United won the next six games and managed to move up a couple of places before dropping back to where they were when the Norwegian had taken over. The club was still on the lookout for a long-term coach with Mauricio Pochettino tipped as the favourite. Any chances of the Argentinean arriving were dashed when United made Solskjaer’s position permanent in March 2019. The 2019/20 season was atypical due to the coronavirus pandemic but at least things seemed to be looking up for United. The team finished third in the Premier League and Solskjaer took them to three semi-finals. There was even more optimism when Cristiano Ronaldo returned at the start of the 2021/22 season, scoring twice on his debut with United unbeaten for the first five games. That rosy spell soon faded with demoralising defeats to Leicester, Liverpool, City and the final straw, yesterday's 4-1 drubbing at Watford.
Michael Carrick 2021-
Carrick spent 12 years at Old Trafford as a player but has no real managerial experience. He gained his coaching certificates towards the end of his playing days and this will be his first taste of management although he has been part of the coaching staff since 2018. The 40-year-old knows that he has a job on his hands but the team is just six points off fourth place and with any luck should get through the group stage of the Champions League. His first job will be to lift spirits in a jaded dressing room, then try to instill some kind of consistency in the team’s performances. He will only be in the job until May to give the club time to find a more experienced manager. His first game is against Villarreal in the Champions League on Tuesday, followed by Chelsea then Arsenal in the Premier League.