Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to begin the search for his successor as early as possible, and the man tasked with replacing the Scot at Old Trafford after a quarter-of-a-century will face a daunting task indeed.

The Manchester United boss has reportedly identified Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho as the leading candidates to take the reins after his departure, and few would argue they are the most qualified for the position.

So, it would appear, either one of the illustrious duo will take the helm when Ferguson retires in three years - if not before - but what is important to know about each contender?

GMF takes a closer look at the men who would be king at Old Trafford…


 



 

Pep Guardiola

Full name: Josep Guardiola i Sala

Date of birth: January 18, 1971 (age 41)

Teams managed: Barcelona B, Barcelona

Major honours: 14

Born a proud Catalan in Santpedor, Guardiola initially made his name at Barcelona's famed La Masia academy, where he was identified as then first-team manager Johan Cruyff as a star in the making.

Guardiola was the midfield pivot in Cruyff's Barca Dream Team that claimed the club's first ever European Cup in 1992, while he captained Spain to Olympic gold on home soil in the same year.

The midfielder won a total of ten major honours during his time with Barcelona - including six La Liga titles - while he made 384 appearances during 11 years and remains one of the club's all-time legends.

This legend was reinforced when he took to coaching after ending his playing days in Mexico; leading Barcelona B to a Tercera División triumph before taking over from Frank Rijkaard as senior boss.

Guardiola's impact was almost instant - winning the Spanish league and cup double and the Club World Cup during his first season with the club, and getting the better of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in the Champions League final.

Another La Liga win came the following season, while 2010-11 brought even greater reward with Barcelona winning every competition they entered - including a second Champions League win against United.

Guardiola decided to take a sabbatical at the end of the next season owing to exhaustion, while Barcelona ended the campaign with a Copa del Rey triumph.


 

 



 

Jose Mourinho

Full name: José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix

Date of birth: January 26, 1963 (age 49)

Teams managed: Benfica, União de Leiria, Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid

Major honours: 20

Mourinho started out as a player in his native Portugal but, when the realisation set in that he would not make it as a professional, he switched to coaching.

After working as a PE teacher and then youth team coach, Mourinho was provided the opportunity he yearned when he was appointed Bobby Robson's interpreter at Sporting, before following him to Porto and Barcelona.

Mourinho stayed with Barcelona after Robson departed - working under Louis van Gaal - before leaving to concentrate on coaching, and being handed his first managerial job at Benfica.

It did not last long until Mourinho switched to União de Leiria, before earning a return to Porto where he won the Primeira Liga, Taça de Portugal, and UEFA Cup in his first full season.

Mourinho added the Champions League to his growing list of honours the following season - beating Manchester United along the way - before leaving for Chelsea a month later.

The Special One claimed Chelsea's first ever Premier League title in his first campaign, along with the League Cup, to announce himself as one of the best managers around.

Another Premier League triumph came the following season to reinforce his status, while the Blues won the FA Cup and League Cup in 2006-07, before he left Stamford Bridge after a disagreement with Roman Abramovich.

Little under a year later and Mourinho was at the San Siro to take charge of Inter,where he won the Scudetto, as if by habit, in his first season with the club.

He created more history the following year as Inter claimed an historic Treble, and Mourinho became one of only three managers to win the Champions League with two different teams.

A poor relationship with the media in Italy saw Mourinho keen to jump ship, however, and he moved to Real Madrid in the summer of 2010.

Mourinho could only win the Copa del Rey during his debut campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Los Blancos claimed the Spanish title last season - breaking records for points and goals scored along the way.

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