x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

United job is mission impossible

Former Old Trafford favourite Macari likens reign of Sir Alex to that of the great Sir Matt.

Lou Macari, one of Manchester United's favourite sons, believes the extraordinary success enjoyed by Sir Alex Ferguson over 24 years at Old Trafford will scare off many would-be successors. Macari, 60, is old enough to make pertinent comparisons between the reign of Ferguson and that of the even more revered Sir Matt Busby and he is anticipating a similar fall-out at the club when Ferguson eventually calls time on his record-breaking career.

Speaking in his capacity as manager of the United "Legends" team at the Emirates Airline Dubai Football Sevens, Macari said that the successor to Ferguson will be on "a hiding to nothing" in the same way as Busby's replacement, Wilf McGuinness, was when Busby retired for the first time in 1969. "I know Wilf well," said Macari. "He was just unlucky to follow the great Sir Matt and there will be another unlucky manager coming along to follow Sir Alex. No matter how big he is, no matter how good he thinks he is at his job, no matter how much he thinks he is the right man for Old Trafford, he is certainly going to have an inferior record to Alex's for at least 20 years.

"I don't think there will be too many people from our own league queuing up to take the job and the club will probably have to look overseas to find the next manager." The cautious nomination of Macari was Jose Mourinho, who made a triumphant return to England with Inter Milan on Tuesday night to orchestrate the Champions League elimination of his former club, Chelsea. Macari, who was in charge of six British clubs during a span of 18 years as a manager, warned, however: "Even Mourinho, bold and confident that he is, will find it difficult at Old Trafford if he is offered the chance to go there. "I think a lot of people in management who realise being in charge of ManU is a great job will hesitate to do that job after Alex because his record is so phenomenal. By comparison the next man in is bound to be branded a failure."

Macari also suggested that United's best chance of adding a more important trophy to the Carling Cup they won at Wembley recently would be a record 19th Premier League title rather than a fourth European Cup. That is not surprising after the way the holders, Barcelona, roared into today's quarter-final draw by thrashing Stuttgart 4-0 with two goals from their world player of the year Lionel Messi. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae