Phil Thompson breaks silence on Jeff Stelling’s exit and compares him to Fergie

Phil Thompson has broken his silence on Jeff Stelling's exit from Sky and compared the legendary presenter to iconic Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Stelling announced he'd be leaving the company at the end of the season live on Soccer Saturday, a show which he's hosted since 1994.

His decision comes just over a year since his long-time colleagues Thompson, Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas were cut from the programme.

Discussion has begun surrounding who can succeed Stelling in the role – and former England and Liverpool defender Thompson sees it being a tough job for whoever steps up.

Speaking to Paddy Power, he said: “He’s left big boots to fill and there’s nobody ideal to replace him because Jeff is the best and it would be very difficult for somebody to be the exact same as him. However, the show will evolve.

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“If we were to compare this situation to a manager leaving and a replacement coming in, it’s like when Sir Alex Ferguson left United and David Moyes stepped in.

"Like in Moyes' case, everybody is going to scrutinise everything that the Jeff’s replacement does.

Who would you replace Jeff Stelling with? Let us know in the comments section.

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"Have they got the knowledge of Jeff? Are they funny like Jeff? Can they get the best out of the pundits like Jeff did?

“They are going to be scrutinised and that’s what happened with Moyes. It’s going to be really difficult for whoever comes in because that happens when you follow an icon."

Reports that Stelling quit due to the manner of the exit of his co-hosts have circulated, and Thompson revealed it's something the 66-year-old has struggled with.

Thompson added: "When Matt, Charlie and I left, it was very difficult for him to move on without us. The Soccer Saturday show is evolving but I think it was probably difficult for him in that regard.”

When asked about the replacement, he replied: “Julian Warren presents the Soccer show on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and he’s always been very capable.

"He’ll probably be up there in terms of replacements but he’s not Jeff Stelling and he’d be the first to say that. But he’s a great lad.

“With the likes of Kammy (Chris Kamara) and Roy Keane, you have to be of a certain personality and while they’re great pundits, I’m not sure they have what’s needed."

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