Alex Ferguson travels to Birmingham today to take on his protege Steve Bruce. I have it on good authority that Bruce will NOT be wearing a head bandage for today's game. To be fair, Fergie could probably play against teams managed by his former players every week, were he so inclined. There's even three of his protégés in charge of Premiership clubs this season, with Bruce joined by Roy Keane at Sunderland and Mark Hughes at Blackburn Rovers. Here's a quick list former Fergie players who've followed him into tracksuit-wearing.
Roy Keane (Sunderland)
Mark Hughes (Blackburn Rovers)
Steve Bruce ()
Bryan Robson (Sheffield United)
Alex McLeish* (Scotland)
Gordon Strachan (Celtic)
Mark McGhee* (Motherwell)
Paul Ince (MK Dons)
Darren Ferguson (Peterborough United)
Clayton Blackmore (Porthmadog)
Neale Cooper* (former Gillingham manager)
Willie Miller* (former Aberdeen manager)
Chris Casper (Bury)
Mark Robins (Rotherham)
*Played under Fergie at Aberdeen, everyone else at Manchester United. Gordon Strachan both.
If you factor in Ferguson's brief spell in charge of Scotland's 1986 World Cup squad (after the suddden death of Jock Stein) then you can also add Graeme Souness (loads of teams, always rubbish), Maurice Malpas (briefly Motherwell) Paul Sturrock (briefly Southampton) and Steve Nicol (New England Revs) to that list.
The above list raises two interesting questions: 1) Have I missed anyone? Please let me know, and we can add it to the list. 2) Who is the best of Fergie's managerial fledglings?
Steve Bruce has had his ups and downs but seems decent enough, and has got Blues picking up a few Premiership points. Roy Keane worked a miracle last season, but we'll have a better understanding of just how good he is at the end of the 2007/8 Premiership campaign. Mark Hughes has done some very solid work, both with Wales and Blackburn, but never actually won anything. Bryan Robson has literally had more downs than ups.
So I'd argue that Fergie's two most successful protégés are the two who've gone north of the border and won trophies. Gordon Strachan did some decentish work for Coventry and some solid work at Southampton before heading north to Celtic. He won the Scottish Premier League, the Scottish League Cup and took Celtic into the last 16 of the Champions League. Meanwhile Alex McLeish did the treble in Scotland with Rangers, took them into the last 16 of the Champions League and is now the Scotland national team manager.