Sir Alex Ferguson has announced his retirement, leaving Manchester United after 26 years in charge. He departs with quite a CV, having won practically every trophy available including an astounding 13 Premier League titles and establishing Manchester United as not just a successful football club, but a global sporting institution.
For many fans like myself, Sir Alex Ferguson is Manchester United, having never known a game without the Scotsman chewing fervently in the dugout. Being born after he took charge at Old Trafford, the news brings about a new era where success will be far from certain, regardless of who is appointed successor.
They will be the biggest boots to fill, and it will take a special personality to handle the pressure and media spotlight, especially if results are not immediately positive. Questions arise as to whether the new manager will be given time to get to know the team or whether Manchester United will enter a phase of managerial merry-go-round. Given that Sir Alex will stay on as Director of Football and is said to have been given some say in choosing his successor, the former seems more likely, however, given the current state of football with people demanding instant results, fans may not be so forgiving.
Some may remember Sir Alex planned to retire way back in 2001-2002 with none other than Sven Gorran Erikson lined up to replace him. However, by announcing his retirement in advance before the season began, it had an adverse affect on the performance of the United team and drained his authority. Sir Alex will have learnt from this experience, hence why this news came somewhat out of the blue.
The bookies favorite is currently Everton manager David Moyes with Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho also in the running and it may come down to the reputations of these managers. Mourinho would perhaps be an exciting choice and probably guarantee trophies for the time that he sticks around, while Moyes, given time, may be able to provide the kind of stability that has been the bedrock of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure. Rumours are that Manchester United are looking for someone who “understands the club’s history and is committed to youth development while employing an attractive, attacking style of football”, which would seem to imply Moyes.
Regardless of who is to be Sir Alex’s successor, now is the time to look back at the great times. From the first title win in 1993 that ironically ended United’s 26 year wait for the title, to the treble winning success of 1999, every United fan is sure to have a favourite. Fans will also reminisce over Sir Alex’s greatest signings, his greatest team and his greatest match but one thing is certain his haul of 38 trophies during his reign at Old Trafford is unlikely to be matched.
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Updated May 9th: Manchester United have announced that, as widely rumoured and predicted, David Moyes will be the successor to Sir Alex. In a show of commitment to the new manager he will be offered a six-year deal starting on 1 July. Sir Alex Ferguson, who recommended Moyes to the United Board stated that:
David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. I’ve admired his work for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of assistant manager here. There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this club.
Moyes was described as having “all the skills needed to build on United’s phenomenal legacy” so all United fans should get behind the new manager and I’m sure next season will be an exciting one.