When a nation loses a leader, there is a vacuum in power at the top. The more influential the leader, the more he has done for his people, the more known he is throughout the world, the more respect he commands, the greater the vacuum.
And the harder it is to replace him.
Now nations all over the world will attempt to replace him by scheduling elections. Candidates will come forth, either through their own volition or hand-picked by those in power and they will either put forward their own agenda or continue to build on what before them have constructed so painfully.
Elections take months to deliver results, and sometimes, they are not the right ones. In football, however, time is not a luxury most clubs have at their disposal, a characteristic that is become more and more obvious in today’s world.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as Manchester United manager will leave in his stead a vacuum the likes of which few have ever witnessed before in the world of football. Given the transformation (that’s the best I could muster) United have undergone, David Moyes, the man recruited to replace him, is going to have his hands more than full. His plate has gotten so full so fast that he will now need to make sure nothing falls of it.
But while he makes sure of that, there are others circling the tower on top of which Sir Alex Ferguson has built the club, the institution, the Theatre of Dreams, the brand.
Given the vast resources some of his opponents have at their disposal, they have what it takes to mobilise men and material to occupy the vacancy on the front lines of club football’s toughest battle that is the Barclays Premier League.
Those geographically closest to him have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. Across the city of Manchester, at the Etihad Stadium, Roberto Mancini will be plotting how to ensure that while glory stays in Manchester, it crosses the city in an attempt to replace red ribbons with sky blue ones.
But Mancini won’t be the only one who will use his seemingly disposable resources to ensure his club occupy the void at the top. In the British capital, Roman Abramovich will be conferring with his inner circle in an attempt to make sure he finally establishes Chelsea at the head of this new world order that will ensue now that English football’s best has departed from the dugout.
For all we know, Chelsea’s Champions League triumph last year and a potential Europa League conquest could be the start of something much larger. This only means that Chelsea will need to put more thought into who manages the club next season, and could mean Rafael Benitez makes his tenure at Stamford Bridge a more permanent one.
With two of the top four now bankrolled by billionaires, this could be the start of a new era in the league.
But contrary to Barney Stinson’s ‘new is always better’ code, this could be the stage to prove to the footballing world that the old ways are still the ones that are the best. Across London, Arsene Wenger now remains the Premier League’s longest serving manager.
After eight years of weathering the clamouring for silverware, this could be Arsenal’s time to return to the pinnacle of English football. Having now repaid a significant portion of the stadium debt that proved to be a stumbling block in the Gunners’ transfer dealings, this could be the time for silverware to now enter the Emirates Stadium cabinet, with no trophies being won since they moved from Highbury.
Wenger is far more experienced than any of his peers, and with money now scheduled to enter the coffers at Ashburton Grove because of property sales, transfer activity and a proposed new kit deal, the spotlight will surely be on him to deliver results.
But despite Arsenal being adversaries to United, they are relatively new when compared to United’s old enemies Liverpool.
Under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool have undergone a steady rebuilding process that is beginning to undo the woeful ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Next season will see them hoping to return to the top four of English football and should make for some very interesting match-ups with United.
There will be some who say that the spark between the two sides will be slightly more tempered but that will not be the case. Irrespective of which manager has been at the helm of either club, there has always been a red-hot rivalry between the two sides. Adding to that fact is that David Moyes is very well versed with the atmosphere that surrounds Liverpool games as he has managed Everton for the last decade or so.
And what of United themselves?
This is the big break that Moyes has been waiting for. This is the reward that the eleven years he spent at Goodison Park has brought him. They have inculcated him with the perseverance, dedication and work ethic necessary to occupy the Manchester United hotseat.
He becomes only the second manager to assume that mantle at Old Trafford during the Premier League era and his arrival in Manchester is only the Darwinist natural order of progression that his career has been poised to take for some time now.
From delivering promotion for Preston North End to guiding Everton to continental football, this is the next big step in management for Moyes and the skills he has will be vital to him being able to handle the pressure at Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson will definitely be there to guide him and lend him an ear to talk to whenever he needs it.
The general consensus is that he will take some time to acclimatise to the needs and wants at Manchester United having never managed a club of this magnitude before. For all we know, he could surprise all of us. Either way, next season’s Premier League brings with it more trepidation and fervour than previous seasons have.
August can’t come sooner.