Darren, chip off the old block, plays for time

Wrexham 1 Peterborough United 2
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Should Sir Alex Ferguson crave a new focus for his attention once he retires from football's front line, he may find one in helping to shape a management career for his son. Darren Ferguson's participation in a caretaker committee at managerless Wrexham has given rise to speculation that he is to follow in his father's footsteps.

Such talk, in fact, is premature. Ferguson Jnr last night ruled himself out as a potential successor to Brian Flynn at the Racecourse Ground, on the grounds that it is an opportunity too soon.

"I'm only 29 and I feel I could probably go on playing until I'm 35 at least," he said. "If an opening like this were to come up in three years' time maybe it would be different but it is not something I'm ready to do at this time."

Indeed, with the Second Division club in need of an experienced hand after losing five games in a row, it is likely that yesterday's 2-1 home defeat to Peterborough, coming after a 3-1 loss to Port Vale in midweek, will be the extent of Ferguson's current involvement. However, his first taste will almost certainly not be his last.

"Management is a direction I would like to go in at some stage in the future," he said. "And although we have not discussed the job at length I have told my father that I'd like to do it."

Ferguson is one of three senior players who have been helping coach Joey Jones fill the breach since Flynn quit last week after 12 years in charge. It is a responsibility to which his demeanour on the field, where he appears a natural leader, indicates he is already suited. Time may show him to have skills inherited from his father but Wrexham's enthusiasm for him has less to do with any genetic predisposition towards management than the respect he has gained in his two years with the club.

Once a fringe player at Old Trafford and later a regular with Wolves, Ferguson arrived at the Racecourse in September 1999 following a spell with Sparta Rotterdam. Wrexham then pulled off one of their regular giant-killing feats in the FA Cup, eliminating Middlesbrough in the third round, and with Sir Alex watching from the stands Ferguson Jnr scored the winner.

In a relatively modest career, it was a moment for him to treasure and he was glad of the contract subsequently offered by Wrexham, to whom he is now tied until 2004. They, too, have been delighted with him. Made captain yesterday ­ until an ankle injury forced his withdrawal after an hour ­ he was in his element, yelling out instructions as well as initiating most of Wrexham's better moves from midfield. Had he stayed on, Wrexham may have held on for a point after Craig Faulconbridge had equalised Jimmy Bullard's opener for Peterborough, rather than concede Leon McKenzie's late winner.

The current Shrewsbury manager, Kevin Ratcliffe, and the former Wales and Everton midfielder Barry Horne are among the favourites for Flynn's job. Ferguson might be a non-starter now but his elevation to his father's honoured profession seems only a matter of time.

Wrexham 1

Faulconbridge 74

Peterborough United 2

Bullard 48, McKenzie 78

Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 2,640