Carlos Queiroz’s departure from United to take over from Scolari as Portugal coach will be a blow to Sir Alex Ferguson. Chelsea have gained a top quality coach (World Cup winning indeed) and Ferguson has lost his trusted assistant.
Queiroz has been heavily involved on the training ground and has helped to shift Man United’s tactics from a traditional 4-4-2 formation to allow more options depending on opponents.
The fact that Ferguson welcomed him back in 2004, 12 months after his defection to Real Madrid, underlines how much the manager valued him.
Possibly most crucially Queiroz’s address book also helped United acquire young Portuguese-speaking talents like Nani, Anderson and Manucho, and his departure will do little to help the club’s prospects of holding on to Cristiano Ronaldo.
It is hard not to conclude that finding a replacement for Queiroz — multilingual and tactically astute — will not be easy. In addition the pressure is on in the race for the Premiership against Chelsea, and Ferguson must be aware that some day he will find he is too old for the role and his assistant may have a key role to play in that.