For 22 years, Alex Ferguson has been the beating heart of Manchester United. Now, in the wake of adding a second UEFA Champions League trophy and a tenth Premier League crown to his sensational CV, the much-respected Scot is preparing to step aside.
Indeed, while 2011 will see Ferguson celebrate a quarter-of-a-century at Old Trafford before he turns 70 later in December of the same year, the United boss vowed over the weekend that he will be in retirement before the time comes to blow out those candles. "I won't be managing here any more than three years at the very, very most," he told The Mail on Sunday. "Without question. I can assure you of that."
As a result, the focus is now turning to those capable of following in Ferguson's legendary footsteps. An obvious early candidate is Carlos Queiroz, the United manager's No2, who has sampled life at the top level during a stint with Real Madrid and is reportedly attracting interest from Benfica and the Portuguese national team.
Then, of course, there is the collection of Fergie's former players who are currently carving out careers in the dugout. Mark Hughes, Roy Keane, Steve Coppell and Steve Bruce have all acquitted themselves well in the Premier League, while Gordon Strachan - who played for Fergie at Aberdeen and Old Trafford - may come into consideration after winning his third league title in as many seasons with Celtic.
Alternatively, the United board could look abroad. Marcello Lippi is a long-standing friend of Ferguson's with an impeccable pedigree, while the Scot enjoyed his frequent verbal jousts with Jose Mourinho, who remains without a job over eight months after leaving Chelsea. The Dutch duo of Guus Hiddink and Frank Rijkaard are also sure to come into consideration due to the success they have enjoyed and the style of play to which both are committed.
But what we want is to hear is who you believe is capable of filling Fergie's boots. Whether it's one of the contenders mentioned or someone completely different, just click on 'Add your comment' to join the debate, remembering to keep your posts clean, respectful and in English.