Saturday, May 11, 2013

Manchester United Or Everton - Who Has The Bigger Void To Fill?

The longest tenured and third longest tenured managers both left their respective English Premier League teams this week when Alex Ferguson announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United and fellow Scot David Moyes left Everton to take up Ferguson's mantle.

Ferguson will remain on United's board of directors and hand-picked his successor, but which of these two teams, who have bucked the trend of high manager turnover and enjoyed success as a result will suffer more after losing a figure who has become synonymous with their identity.

Life After Sir Alex For Man Utd

26 years is an awful long time by any person's measure. Alex Ferguson became manager of Man Utd in November 1986. He brought 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League titles to a club that for now has established itself as the most successful in English football history. Ferguson has secured his place in the history books as arguably the greatest football manager ever.

During 26 seasons Ferguson showed himself to be tremendously adaptable both in terms of the style of football his teams played, the systems that they ran and on the financial side of the game. He presided over a team that became the biggest franchise worldwide in professional sports and managed through an era when tremendous amounts of money was piled into the English Premier League. 

The continuity for Ferguson and United has been success. That success will be an extremely hard act to follow. In a world that is now dominated by very highly paid players, Ferguson was able to assert himself because of his own legendary status. Moyes will not have that same benefit. Ferguson only went without a league title for more than two seasons on one occasion. Moyes will have to compete with that in a league with some big spenders led by Chelsea (possibly led by Jose Mourinho) and Manchester City. 

Ferguson's hold on this team and on the city of Manchester is over, at least as a manager and front line figure at Man Utd. Moyes will have more resources than ever before to sign just about any players he want and rotate a fantastically deep squad. However, he will have tremendous expectations to deal with and he will be following a brilliant manager. If Man Utd have hit the gold mine with Moyes, then they might not miss Fergsuon, but there's a good chance that the importance of Ferguson holding this team together might just be felt by United.

Replacing Moyes At Everton

Moyes may or may not be as good of a manager as Ferguson, but that will not make the task of replacing him at Everton any easier. He arrived in Merseyside in 2002. That makes him the third longest tenured manager in the English Premier League only less than Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger. That's nearly double the next longest tenured manager, Stoke City's Tony Pulis. No other managers have spent even four years at a Premier League football club.

Moyes has made the most of meagre resources. During Moyes' tenure Everton have finished eight out of 10 seasons eighth place or higher and they are expected to make it nine out of 11 seasons with a strong finish again in 2012-13. 

The now experienced manager transformed a team that regularly competed against relegation and finished in the bottom half into a team that regularly finishes near the battle for UEFA/Europa Cup places. 

It won't be easy for any manager to step in maintain that level of achievement. Moyes has had to chase down talent at bargain prices and he has had to set up a dogged system that allows his team just enough creative freedom to win some games as well.

Roberto Martinez and Michael Laudrup are being linked to the Everton job. Those are some pretty big names. Because of Moyes, Everton feels like a big job, but perhaps both of those managers would be better off steering clear of what would be a tough task to say the least.

Written by Sebastian Egerton-Read - you can follow Seb on twitter @SebEread

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