Scunthorpe United's rookie caretaker boss Ian Baraclough has the best possible chance of learning on the job when he crosses swords with his managerial hero, Sir Alex Ferguson, as the Iron face Manchester United in the Carling Cup.
"I consider Sir Alex to be the greatest Manager ever to have come from these shores and perhaps the best in the world," Baraclough told football-league.co.uk ahead of Wednesday evening's sell-out third round glamour tie at Glanford Park.
"He's the daddy of all Managers," added the first team coach who took over the Scunthorpe hot seat on a temporary basis following Manager Nigel Adkins' recent departure from the npower Championship club to League 1 Southampton.
The visit to Glanford Park of the Carling Cup holders, who will be aiming to take their first step on the road to completing a hat-trick of Wembley Final triumphs in the competition, will be Baraclough's first home game in charge.
The 39-year-old former defender, who ended his 20-year playing career with Scunthorpe and was appointed first team coach four years ago, has overseen two League games with contrasting results on the road.
A shock 4-0 win at Sheffield United was followed by Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Swansea City. "No one saw that result at Bramall Lane coming," noted Baraclough, "but it was a great result and well deserved for our second half performance alone.
"We were a bit unfortunate at Swansea - we had a great chance to take the lead just before the first of their two late goals, and if our opportunity had been taken we might have gone on to win the match.
"But I've no complaints about the players because they been fantastic for me. It was a shock to everyone at the club when Nigel left, but the response of the lads has been tremendous and they've done everything I've asked of them.
"Now we've got this absolutely massive occasion with Manchester United coming to town, and there should be an incredible atmosphere in the stadium. But there will be no pressure on us to win the game except the pressure we put on ourselves.
"Whatever team United put out it will be full of internationals, and if they're at their best then our chances of winning will be minimal. But if we're at our best and they have an off-night, there's no reason why we can't win the game.
"For any Manager to come out on top against Sir Alex would be a great fillip, and obviously that's my hope - and it would be fantastic to pick his brains for five minutes after the game if he has the time."
An unexpected victory for Scunthorpe might be a factor in persuading Baraclough to take the Manager's job on a full-time basis, a decision on which he has promised Chairman Steve Wharton he will make by the end of this week.
"It's only fair to the Chairman that I make my decision quickly," said Baraclough. "It's a great opportunity at a club I know well, but it's got to sit right with me and my family and that's going to be the deciding factor."
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