Ranking all the Ferguson-era Man Utd players to become top-flight managers
Calls are growing for Ole Gunnar Solskjær to be handed the Manchester United managerial job on a permanent basis after his flying start to life in charge as caretaker.
The Norwegian has already made his miserable Cardiff stint seem like ancient history, helping turn around a season which looked to have hit a wall under José Mourinho.
He’s one of a great number of former Manchester United players to get a top-flight job after playing for the club under Sir Alex Ferguson, but how does he compare to the others?
Jaap Stam – Top-flight points per game: N/A
Stam took over from John van ‘t Schip at Dutch strugglers PEC Zwolle during the winter break, and will have to wait a little longer for his first game in charge.
He averaged 1.44 points with Reading in the English second tier, reaching the play-off final in his first season but struggling the following year before losing his job in March 2018.
Pat McGibbon – 0.54
Northern Irish defender McGibbon didn’t have the best playing career at United, picking up a red card in a debut defeat against York City, and things didn’t get much better for him in the dugout.
After some stints at lower-league clubs, McGibbon took over in charge of his former employers Portadown in 2016 and was let go after a dismal run of just five wins from 37 league games.
Mike Phelan – 0.65
Phelan didn’t have the easiest task at Hull, with only a handful of players on the club’s books the summer before they embarked on their most recent Premier League campaign.
Even so, he hardly covered himself in glory, taking seven points from seven games before he was given the job permanently, and just six from 13 after.
His replacement, Marco Silva, took just 10 games to surpass Phelan’s overall total.
Paul Ince – 0.76
Ince impressed early in his managerial career, at Macclesfield and MK Dons, but his first Premier League gig at Blackburn went significantly less well.
Ince won three of his first six but that would be as good as it got, as he was dismissed before Christmas – albeit not before an eight-goal thriller against Ferguson’s Man Utd in the League Cup.
Gary Neville – 0.88
Neville did actually pick up a couple of wins in charge of Valencia, but most of them were in cup competitions.
An average of less than one point per game in La Liga was enough to ensure he didn’t see out the season after joining in December 2015, leaving with Los Che 14th in the league.
Andrei Kanchelskis – 0.93
Russian winger Kanchelskis had a difficult start to managerial life, failing to prevent Latvian club FC Jürmala from suffering relegation after joining mid-season.
Things have gone slightly better for him in Uzbekistan, though, where he has helped take Navbahor Namangan close to Champions League qualification and will embark on his first full season in 2019.
Roy Keane – 1.02
Keane had a sensational start to management, lifting struggling Sunderland into the Premier League, but his record in the top flight was not quite as strong.
A healthy mid-table finish in his first season was followed by a dismal start to his second, with Ricky Sbragia replacing the Irishman in December.
Since then, of course, Keane has largely been reduced to punditry and assistant manager work. Which is great news for us.
Teddy Sheringham – 1.09
There’s probably a debate to be had here about whether we ought to have included caveats for quality of league, but it’s too late for that now.
Sheringham’s total comes from a short stint in charge of ATK in the Indian Super League, where his squad included Robbie Keane and Ryan Taylor.
Henrik Larsson – 1.1
Larsson is another who started well only to tail off badly, doing a good job to keep Falkenberg afloat and being rewarded with a move to Helsingborgs and an eighth-placed finish in his first season there.
However, the following year ended with defeat in the Swedish relegation play-off and he has yet to take another managerial job.
Bryan Robson – 1.1
It might seem weird for a twice-relegated manager to be ahead of so many, but Robson has three mid-table seasons at Middlesbrough to make up for the disappointment at Boro and West Brom.
Captain Marvel has been out of the managerial game since quitting as Thailand boss in 2011.
Steve Bruce – 1.12
Another manager with highs and lows to his name, Bruce’s ration has been in part by the stature of the clubs he managed. If we included impressive second-tier seasons with Birmingham, Hull and Aston Villa then his points-per-game tally would be even higher.
Mark Hughes – 1.29
Hughes’ last 12 months have brought his average down, but it’s easy to forget there was a time when he was spoken of as a potential successor to Ferguson.
That’s in no small part to a strong start at Blackburn, which ultimately took him to the blue side of Manchester where he was dismissed with the team in sixth place in the league.
Frank Stapleton – 1.41
Stapleton has just one top-flight season to his name, with New England Revolution in Major League Soccer, and left the club after failing to take them to the end-of-season play-offs.
His record is complicated by the fact that, in the early years of MLS, there were no draws – instead, when games ended level, they went to shootouts, with the Revs winning six of their seven tied games in that fashion.
Gabriel Heinze – 1.43
One of the Fergie acolytes you might not have realised went into management, Heinze is now with his third different Argentine side in Vélez Sarsfield.
He’s already doing better there than he did at Godoy Cruz, with Vélez knocking on the door of the Champions League spots after 15 games.
Henning Berg – 1.55
Ignore the Blackburn stint, which (a) was in the second tier and (b) is hardly a handy guide for any manager of the early Venky’s era and Berg has a pretty solid record.
The Norwegian former centre-back has a Polish league title to his name with Legia Warsaw, and was sacked by Hungarian outfit Videoton despite a runner-up finish in 2017.
He’s now back in Norway with Stabæk, who he led to safety in 2018 via a relegation play-off.
Gordon Strachan – 1.57
Yes, the Celtic stint colours the final tally quite a bit, but Strachan had some good results with Coventry and Southampton too, before things eventually went sour at both clubs.
He took the Sky Blues up to 11th place in the Premier League – their highest finish since the division rebranded in 1992 – and even took the Saints as high as eighth. We miss his press conferences.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær – 1.72
Those five straight league wins have helped push Solskjær up the list, but his Molde record isn’t too shabby either.
In fact, his Premier League average still brings down his Norwegian numbers, thanks to his part in Cardiff’s 2014 relegation.
After two Eliteserien titles before his stint in south Wales, he has earned two second-place finishes since returning to Molde.
Ryan Giggs – 1.75
Sure, Giggs had a mere four games in charge of United after David Moyes’ dismissal, but he earned seven points from those four games. Sorry, we don’t make the rules.
David Healy – 2.06
Didn’t expect to see Healy here, did you? The Northern Ireland international striker, who played just one Premier League game in a Manchester United shirt, has one league title and two further top-four finishes in charge of Linfield.
With the Belfast club flying high once more, he could be lifting a second title come the end of the 2018-19 season.
Laurent Blanc – 2.14
Title wins with two different teams means it’s no surprise to see Blanc atop this list.
After winning Ligue 1 with Bordeaux in 2009, he arrived at PSG via a stint in charge of the French national team and proceeded to lose just eight games in three seasons.
His final year in Paris saw his team pick up 96 points en route to the title, which seems pretty good if you ask us.