Ferguson’s influence rubs off on those to follow his lead

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Oli Hawkins. Picture: Joe Pepler/PinPep

Pompey striker hopes to inflict more Plymouth pain

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When you’ve been manager of a football club for a quarter of a century and you’ve had part of the stadium named after you, it stands to reason that there will be a huge number of players that will pass through the club under your tenure.

Sir Alex Ferguson has had a major influence on English football for 25 years and it’s no surprise that many of his former players have been keen to follow him into management.

But to have more than 20 of your former stars go on to become managers would suggest that Ferguson’s methods have rubbed off on his former Manchester United players more than others.

Michael Appleton could become the 22nd of his former players to be named as a full-time manager if, as expected, he eventually takes charge of Pompey.

The West Brom coach made just two appearances for the Old Trafford giants back in the 1996-97 season – both in the League Cup – but played alongside both United legends Roy Keane and Paul Scholes in his two outings.

But having followed a glittering procession of players through the ranks to play first-team football for United, Appleton could now join an ever-increasing list of managers who are attempting to emulate Ferguson’s trophy-laden dynasty.

While some were more successful than others, the leagues – both at home and abroad – have seen ex-United players dotted around at various outposts.

Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Gordon Strachan, Paul Ince and Mark Hughes have all managed in the Premier League.

Others have never reached the top level and some quickly realised that management was not for them. But some of Ferguson’s other former charges are now regarded as some of the brightest managerial prospects around, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also heavily linked with the Pompey job having just steered Molde to the Norwegian title, while Mark Robins was also touted for the post.

Appleton spent five years at Old Trafford after graduating through the youth ranks with David Beckham, Gary Neville and Scholes before he left for regular first-team football with Preston and then West Brom. Although injury curtailed his career at the age of just 27, it now seems that he is in line for his first managerial job eight years later.