There was to be no other.
There probably will be no other.
4 years ago, the greatest manager to ever grace a football pitch retired. Sir Alex Ferguson. He walked away, and the club he left has not been the same since. Everyone knew it would be tough, but what to do? How do you move on from someone who meant everything? You don’t. You really can’t, unless you get another super-hero who will mean more. That super-hero probably doesn’t exist. This life!
Walk around the block, and you’ll see wanna-be’s. Everybody trying to be the next AF. Nobody even comes close. You need to be there for 25+ years, dominate your league, bend it to your own will, win 35+ trophies. Refresh your squad every 4 to 5 years. Above all, transmit your personality to those under your care (greatness comes when you reproduce greatness).
Tough act to follow. Anybody trying? Pochettino comes to mind. He has the desire to do something similar.
Enter the bald man. Better known as Zidane aka Zizou.
What? Zidane? I know what you’re thinking. The guy just started management at the highest level. This is his first full season. Isn’t it a little, actually a lot early to make such a comparison? Yes. Time is a good tester. But one of Fergie’s great qualities was in seeing potential early on? So, technically am i the next Fergie for pointing Zidane out?
Zidane has some qualities worth noticing.
Legitimacy (big word). He has developed a meritocracy in that players know they get opportunities based on merit. Consider this: Who has the most appearances in this squad in La Liga? Ronaldo? no. Bale? no. Modric? no. Vazquez, know him. Lucas Vazquez. Next. Isco. They are not necessarily starting games, but they are getting minutes, opportunities to prove themselves. This makes them listen to him when he tells them what to do, they respect him. It also enables him to rotate without losing much quality. It enables him to introduce hungry substitutes who have changed games.
Never say die attitude. 22 goals in the last 10 minutes. They don’t give up this season. A good number of the goals have turned losses into draws or draws into wins. They have added points. Classic Fergie trait.
Man management. Cristiano Ronaldo has played considerably less minutes this season, but has been productive at crucial moments. This is due Zidane convincing him to rest more, save his energy for important periods. He has coaxed the best out of James Rodriguez from the bench, Isco from the bench, Morata, the list goes on.
Youth. Vazquez, Asensio, Morata, Varane. Yes, Morata and Varane were good players even before Zidane was manager. But he still has played them; add Asensio and Vazquez and you get a manager who believes in giving young players a chance. Another classic Fergie trait.
And last but not least, winning. He is showing that everything translates to trophies. Champions League last season, La Liga this season. Zidane is a winner.
Combine the qualities and you get the feeling that the great Fergie is back, unlike Tupac, who they just sang about. If only we can still say the same 25+ years and 35+ trophies later. Then we’ll really know that Fergie is back.