Gabriel Heinze claims Manchester United will never be the same again after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson last summer, emphasising the impossible task of anyone trying to fill the shoes of the Old Trafford legend.
The former defender - who enjoyed three successful seasons with the Red Devils between 2004 and 2007 - admitted he can't get used to the idea of his old manager not being involved with the day-to-day running of the club, but insisted that there is no reason why another coach can't have a similar impact.
"It's not Manchester United anymore," he reflected in an interview with BBC Sport. "It's very simple because after so much time of seeing that face and personality of Alex Ferguson, it's not easy.
"Yes he had to leave some day because no-one is eternal. But the truth is that Sir Alex Ferguson left a big void."
David Moyes was the man tasked with replacing Ferguson in the Manchester United hot-seat, but after little over 10 months in charge was sacked by the club's board of directors.
Louis van Gaal is the favourite to be appointed as the ex-Everton manager's successor at Old Trafford, after leading Holland into the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Heinze believes that the Dutchman is capable of rediscovering the Manchester United of old, but warned fans against comparing his prospective accolades with anything that Ferguson achieved in the past, suggesting that that is exactly where his unrivalled success should be kept.
"For the moment it will be very difficult to comprehend, because he is a unique person in Manchester United's whole history," added the Argentine, now playing back in his homeland for Newell's Old Boys.
"But also - just as someone like Sir Alex Ferguson appeared - why can't another person emerge with the same capability?
"It will never be the same because for a Manchester United supporter Alex Ferguson will be the person who has marked the history and the club.
"The truth is I struggle to see Manchester United without Alex Ferguson on the bench or in training. Also, because I have huge affection and admiration for him."
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