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Aug 9, 2010

Ask Norman: Fergie's managerial proteges

Norman Hubbard is Soccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to asknorman@hotmail.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

I realised that there are quite a number of current / ex-managers in the Premier League that were once under Sir Alex Ferguson's guidance as players. I am interested to know how many managers who were once themselves managed by Sir Alex guidance are still plying their trade in the English League? asked Willis Ng from Singapore.

Steve Bruce of Sunderland, Birmingham's Alex McLeish and the new Fulham manager Mark Hughes are the three current Premier League bosses who used to play for Ferguson - Bruce and Hughes at Manchester United and McLeish for Aberdeen. In the Football League there are five more bosses who played their club football for Ferguson: Mark Robins (Barnsley), Roy Keane (Ipswich), Gordon Strachan (Middlesbrough) and Darren Ferguson (Preston), who are all in the Championship, plus Chris Turner, at League One Hartlepool. There is also one who can often be overlooked: Southend's Paul Sturrock, who was in Scotland's 1986 World Cup squad, managed by Ferguson.

However, as your email suggests, plenty of Ferguson's old boys have previously managed in the top flight: Ince (Blackburn), Bryan Robson (Middlesbrough and West Brom) and Mark McGhee (Leicester) are three while Hughes was previously at Blackburn and Manchester City and Bruce used to manage Wigan and Birmingham in the division. Besides them, Ferguson also selected Graeme Souness (Liverpool, Southampton, Blackburn and Newcastle) and Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool, Blackburn and Newcastle) during his brief reign with Scotland, though the latter missed the 1986 World Cup.

Sturrock (Southampton), Strachan (Coventry and Southampton) and Keane (Sunderland) have also managed in the Premier League, though they now operate at lower levels. Those who have managed in the Football League include Bryan Gunn (Norwich), Eric Black (Coventry), Chris Casper (Bury), Simon Davies (Chester), Neale Cooper (Hartlepool and Gillingham), Graeme Sharp (Oldham) and Maurice Malpas (Swindon). Go into non-league and Paul Parker (Chelmsford and Welling) is yet another former Ferguson player.

The list is still longer if we include Ferguson's former assistants: Brian Kidd (Blackburn), Steve McClaren (Middlesbrough) and Walter Smith (who managed Everton before a spell as Ferguson's No. 2), while former United reserve team manager Ricky Sbragia had a spell in charge of Sunderland. In addition, Carlos Queiroz has managed Real Madrid and Portugal.

Moreover, others Fergie old boys to manage abroad, either now or in the past, include Henning Berg of Lillestrom, Willie Miller and Roy Aitken (both at Aberdeen), McGhee (currently at Aberdeen), Richard Gough (Livingston), Doug Rougvie (Montrose) and Steve Archibald (East Fife and Airdrie). From his time in charge of Scotland, Steve Nicol (New England Revolution) is another of the international contingent while Robson, his former United captain, is currently in charge of Thailand.

And there is a French double: Laurent Blanc, new manager of Les Bleus, and Eric Cantona, formerly in charge of the less prestigious Beach Soccer team.

Almost finally, Ferguson's coaching team at Old Trafford features still more of his ex-players: Mike Phelan, Brian McClair and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. And last but not least, Bruce (with Eric Black) and McLeish (in Andy Watson) have still more of his past players on their coaching staffs.

With Vicente del Bosque having joined Marcello Lippi among the coaches who have won the World Cup and the Champions League, I am wondering if you could tell me which other managers have won at least two out of the World Cup, UEFA European Championship and UEFA Champions League during their career? asked Adrian Lee.

Yes, the group of managers who have won the Champions League and the World Cup has been doubled. Vicente del Bosque was a Champions League winner twice with Real Madrid (in 2000 and 2002) before leading Spain to his summer's World Cup; Marcello Lippi won the Champions League with Juventus in 1996 and the World Cup with Italy a decade later.

Only one manager has won both the World Cup and the European Championships - and to make his record still more impressive, he has also been a runner-up in both competitions as well. Helmut Schon managed West Germany for 14 years, winning the 1974 World Cup after coming second in 1966, and triumphing in the 1972 European Championships before being beaten finalists four years later.

The double of Europe's two biggest prizes - the European Championships and the European Cup, as it was then - has been done by the man FIFA named "the coach of the century" in 1999. Rinus Michels has also been called the founder of 'Total Football'. He created the Ajax team that won the European Cup three years in a row, though he left after the first triumph in 1971, and led a younger generation of great Dutch players, including Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten, to the Euro '88 title.

That was Michels' second spell as Netherlands manager. The first included the 1974 World Cup final; had the Netherlands held on to their early lead, he would secured a treble of World Cup, European Championships and European Cup.

The other man to have conquered Europe for club and country may be less well known now. Jose Villalonga won the first two European Cups in 1956 and 1957 for Real Madrid. He went on to lead Spain to victory in the 1964 European Championships.

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